While his wife and daughter got a feel for the kind of snow the world can expect for the 2002 Winter Games, President Clinton, the family's non-skier, squeezed in another Olympics-related chat before ending a four-day vacation in Utah Sunday.
Air Force One thundered away from the Utah Air National Guard base about 4:50 p.m., carrying both the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to Washington, D.C. The couple stopped to wave before ducking into the jet.Daughter Chelsea, whose birthday wish brought the first family to the state, earlier Sunday took a commercial flight back to California where she attends Stanford University in Palo Alto.
The president and first lady initially intended to attend a parents' weekend at Stanford but opted for a secluded family getaway instead.
Mother and daughter, accompanied by Secret Service agents, finished up the week doing what attracted Chelsea to Utah for her 18th birthday party. The pair crisscrossed the finely manicured but foggy mountains of the high-brow Deer Valley Resort until noon Sunday. The resort will host the Olympics freestyle and slalom ski competition .
Clinton, making his first trip to Utah as president, spent his time in a private mansion reading books, possibly including one on Teddy Roosevelt, and only ventured away from the house once.
By all accounts, the Clintons enjoyed their stay and the time it gave them together as a family.
The press was held at bay nearly the entire time, and Clinton fielded no direct questions from the media while in Utah.
Before leaving Sunday, the president met with Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Frank Joklik and his wife, Pam, at the Deer Valley fire station for about 10 minutes. SLOC requested the meeting through its Washington lobbyist.
"It was more of a social situation than anything else," Joklik said afterward. "We just thought it was important to at least touch base with him and let him know about our work."
Specifically, they talked about transportation and Olympic security, which is estimated to cost $30 million.
"To tell you the truth, we have been counting on federal help for security," he said. "Clearly, the more federal support we can get, the better off we are."
Joklik and the president did not talk numbers nor did he seek any kind of pledge from the president. "It was not that kind of meeting," he said. "Clearly, that will come." When it does, he said, SLOC will deal with the federal agencies involved.
The president's schedule called for nothing but relaxation while in Utah. But the White House and state and local government leaders were able to arrange some time together Saturday afternoon at the Air Guard base prior to Clinton's out-and-back trip to Los Angeles for a Democratic fund-raiser.
Sen. Bob Bennett, U.S. Reps. Jim Hansen and Merrill Cook, all R-Utah, plus Gov. Mike Leavitt and state legislators, talked to the president about a variety of issues, most notably the Olympics and transportation.
Officials said Clinton indicated strong support for the Winter Games and vowed to do what he could to help Salt Lake City host the worldwide event in 2002.
Lawmakers asked the president to consider sending some discretionary transportation funds Utah's way to help complete I-15 reconstruction. Clinton didn't make any commitments during the brief discussion.
En route to the air base Saturday, Clinton unexpectedly halted his 19-car motorcade to walk Park City's historic Main Street. The president was warmly received by hundreds of surprised but enthusiastic vacationers and locals.
"Oh, this is so cool," squealed Jennifer Grace as the president strolled past.
Clinton asked one man where he was from. When the man pointed to himself and said, "Chile," the president's face lit up. "I'm on my way there," he said. "I'm going to Chile in April."
Despite his recent political and personal troubles, Clinton seemed to endear himself to the Park City crowd. Clinton told people he was having a great time and flashed the thumbs up sign.
After his afternoon walk, Clinton was whisked by the motorcade to Salt Lake City, where he departed the air base for a fund-raising dinner for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in Los Angeles. He returned to Utah at 1:10 a.m. Sunday and was driven to Deer Valley.
The presidential motorcade returned to the base later Sunday with Clinton and his wife for the flight back to Washington. Well-wishers lined the street outside the compound, hoping the Clintons would stop to shake hands.
"I want to meet the president," said Krystal Bennett, a Granite High sophomore.
Why? "Because I see him on TV, and I think it would be the greatest rush to shake his hand."