Bill Clinton emerges on Chelsea’s NY wedding eve

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RHINEBECK, N.Y. (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton made a long-anticipated appearance in the upstate New York village where his daughter is getting married tomorrow, drawing crowds of onlookers Friday afternoon as preparations continued largely out of sight for the grand and secretive occasion.

The former president, looking relaxed in blue jeans and a black knit shirt, walked with security a few blocks north from the picturesque village’s main intersection to Gigi Trattoria, whose chef is reported to be catering tonight’s rehearsal dinner.

To questions blurted from the huge crowd he attracted, Clinton rattled off easy answers.

How are you?

“We’re all fine.”

“We love it here,” he said. “Chelsea loves the area as well.”

How’s she doing?

“She’s doing well.”

Chelsea Clinton is expected to marry her longtime boyfriend, investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, at a Saturday evening ceremony attended by 400 to 500 people at the grand Astor Courts, an estate on the scenic east bank of the Hudson River. Rumors had abounded for weeks leading up to Friday, including one that Rhinebeck was an elaborate decoy planned by the media-shy Chelsea, and that the wedding would be elsewhere.

The appearance of the former president put all the conspiracy talks to rest.

And what does he think of his soon-to-be son-in-law?

“I like him very much,” the popular Democrat said, picking up more people with each passing step. “I really do. I admire him. Hillary feels the same way.”

That would be Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea’s mother, a former first lady and U.S. senator from New York, and the sitting secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

Some in the crowd were captivated by the sight of an ex-president. For the record, Dutchess County, which contains Rhinebeck, voted for Clinton and Al Gore in 1996.

“We thought it was great that he walked down here,” said Carol Chestney, of Rhinebeck. “He could have parked right outside. He looks great.”

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