- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2000

Well, did he carry her across the threshold?

President and Mrs. Clinton spent their first night in a new roost last night, and neither man, nor wife nor Chappaqua, N.Y., may ever be the same again.

A commuter marriage has officially begun.

For the next year, the Clintons will be 260 miles away from one another as the president completes his term of office and Hillary Rodham Clinton makes her bid for the New York Senate seat.

The occasion marks the first time in 17 years the first couple have been under their own roof, rather than in an official residence.

But what a photo op.

The gracious little byways in and around Chappaqua's Old House Lane have been jammed with TV satellite trucks and an entourage of some 30 reporters bent on peeking into dish barrels and quizzing the locals.

Both Clintons are excited about this unprecedented domestic event, their spokesfolks say.

"Hillary is very excited about this," said Karen Finney, on behalf of the first lady.

"This is an exciting time for anyone to walk through the door of a new house, to have the ability to make it look the way you want it to look, to make it comfortable, to make it your home. That's all the things they're going to do," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters yesterday, who also inquired about the custody of Socks the cat, among other things.

Originally, Mr. Clinton was to visit what CNN has dubbed "the Westchester White House" next week. He changed his mind, however, and accompanied the first lady to New York last night intent upon a camera-ready homecoming, insiders say.

Mr. Clinton returns to Washington today.

But did the president have pangs of loneliness, faced with months alone in the White House? Mr. Lockhart was "not sure."

It was, he allowed, hammer time for Mrs. Clinton.

"I think as the year goes on, her concentration will be increasingly on making a case in New York for what kind of senator New York should have," Mr. Lockhart said.

In Mrs. Clinton's absence, who gets to be the official hostess-with-the-mostess?

Mr. Lockhart had no details, but assured the press that, "We'll find a way to make sure that everyone goes away pleased."

Not everyone is thrilled about the Clintons' arrival in Chappaqua, however.

"There goes the neighborhood," wrote one disgruntled resident in an on-line chat room. Another speculated that one of the Clintons' two moving vans was "strictly for snoop files."

"People are whipping around like lunatics looking for the 'White House,' " Chappaqua resident Kathy Swenson said yesterday, cradling a toddler in her arms.

The Clintons were welcomed to New York by Republican Gov. George E. Pataki: "Why, even people from Hope, Arkansas, understand that New York is the best state to live in."

Mrs. Clinton's likely Senate opponent, New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, likewise played on the "carpetbagger" theme in welcoming the first couple: "I feel very, very proud of the fact that people from around the country want to come to New York, including people from Arkansas," Mr. Giuliani said.

Security in Chappaqua, needless to say, is getting tighter by the moment. A Secret Service command post has been in place on the property since November. Bomb-sniffing dogs and anti-terrorist teams have arrived.

When Mr. Clinton visits in the future, some 100 agents will accompany him, according to MSNBC.

The White House also put a few pesky media rumors to rest about Mr. Clinton's future plans. He will not run for Congress in Arkansas once out of office, nor will he take a job as a Manhattan investment banker at $10 million a year.

The reports, said spokesman Jake Siewart, were "absolute nonsense."

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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