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Back from Vacation in Wyoming, Clinton Gets Ready for Campaign

By Doyle McManus
Los Angeles Times
JACKSON, Wyo.

President Clinton wound up the longest vacation of his White House tenure on Wednesday, staving off his return to work one more day with two final rounds of golf and a last wistful look at the towering serenity of the Grand Teton mountains.

The notoriously workaholic president surprised some of his own aides this year by indulging wholeheartedly in his 17-day vacation and resisting all temptations to cut it short. In his first two years in office, Clinton never took as much as two weeks off in a row.

But the president's leisure - which included camping, horseback riding, white water rafting and an estimated 171 holes of golf - had a serious purpose, aides said: to recharge Clinton's batteries before he plunges into his 1996 re-election campaign.

For most of the next 14 months, beginning with a round of campaign-style trips in September, the president will devote much of his time trying to avoid winning a long involuntary vacation in 1997.

"This has been really relaxing and restful before he dives back into the heady schedule he's going to have back in Washington," White House spokeswoman Ginny Terzano said.

"They have really thoroughly enjoyed this," added Bruce Lindsey, the close aide who accompanied the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton throughout the vacation. "You know, yesterday they just took it easy," he added in a tone of mild wonder. "They lay out by the pool. He took a nap."

Clinton himself made the point at a party sponsored by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce Tuesday evening to thank local residents who helped organize the vacation.

"I wish I could somehow lift up every child in America that has never been 30 miles from home and show them the snow-covered peaks and the rivers and give them the vacation we just had," Clinton said. "You are sending me back to my labors with an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm."

Despite earnest attempts to be lazy, however, by the end of his vacation the president was already succumbing to the siren temptations of work.

He met with a delegation of ranchers to talk about the management of federally owned grazing lands, an issue that blew up in 1992 when Clinton's new administration briefly attempted to increase grazing fees and was accused of waging a "war on the West."

He held a long political lunch with a group of sympathetic oil and gas executives led by Truman Arnold of Texarkana, Texas, who headed the Clinton campaign's energy advisory committee in 1992.

And he spent several hours reading briefing papers for his three-day stay in Hawaii this weekend for ceremonies celebrating the 50th anniversary of V-J Day, the victory over Japan in World War II.