Steve Studdert, commander-in-chief of the Bush inaugural week, said Tuesday he has suddenly acquired an extended family he never knew he had, including purported cousins who want inaugural tickets, rooms for Boy Scout troops and parade places for friends of long-ago schoolmates.
One man, seeking tickets to the Friday fete, staked out Studdert's home in the middle of the night and startled him when he left for his office at 5 a.m.Studdert, former police chief of Brigham City, commands an army of more than 25,000 workers committed to landing Bush on the Capitol steps Jan. 20, holding 11 formal balls that evening and a host of other inaugural events lasting until Sunday when the new president will attend a final ceremony at Washington Cathedral marking a national day of prayer and thanksgiving.
Like any military commander Studdert has been having daily weather briefings, intelligence on the terrain - potholes in Pennsylvania Avenue - and security aiming to head off any possible terrorist attack. Even trash baskets along the inaugural parade route have been picked up to prevent someone from using one to hide a bomb.
While presiding over the immense management task of the inaugural, Studdert is responsible for setting the tone and theme of the inaugural so that the image it presents to the American people is consistent with the new president's values of faith and family. One example will be that more than 300 Bush relatives will participate in the 40 inaugural events, along with more than 100 members of Vice President-elect Dan Quayle's extended family.
The former Utahn and Brigham Young University graduate recently accepted the White House post as Assistant to the President for Special Activities and Initiatives, in which he will be responsible, as with the Inaugural, for seeing that the visual message the world gets from Bush is consistent with the new president's policies. He will oversee the president's public appearances and travel, beginning with Bush's trip to Japan for the funeral of the late Emperior Hirohito. Studdert will go to Tokyo to "advance" that trip shortly after the Inaugural.
"In a changing world," Studdert observed Tuesday morning, "pictures are increasingly important." He recalled that he has a photo of a visual blooper of the sort he hopes to head off - when former Attorney General Edwin Meese announced a major anti-pornography campaign while standing in front of a nude statue at the Justice Department.
Studdert himself this week will participate in the inaugural activities when he conduct's Sunday's church service for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Constitution Hall. For much of the rest of the time he will be Bush's companion in a series of motorcades, keeping in touch with his festival troops via walkie-talkie.