Inaugural Celebration Will Focus on Inclusion

Article excerpt

"Celebrating America's Spirit Together" is the theme of President-elect George W. Bush's four days of inaugural festivities starting Jan. 18, organizers announced yesterday.

"Our theme is inclusive, open, positive and spiritual," said Dallas political consultant Jeanne Johnson Phillips, executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

"President-elect Bush campaigned on a promise to bring America together, and his inauguration will help begin that process," said Mrs. Phillips.

The aim of the inaugural is to celebrate America's pioneer spirit and neighborliness - "what we have done as a people" - on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's swearing-in as the country's third president, the first inauguration in Washington, she said.

Private fund raising for inaugural events, culminating with a White House open house free to the public on Jan. 21, has already brought in about $9 million of the committee's targeted $30 million, she told reporters at a news conference.

Mr. Bush and soon-to-be first lady Laura Bush, along with Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, will bolster inaugural fund raising by following President Clinton's tradition of intimate dinners with well-heeled donors, the committee announced.

Three candlelight dinners will be held at various locations in Washington on Jan. 19 for people paying $2,500 per ticket or $25,000 per table. Two dinners will be closed to press coverage and one may be covered by a press pool, according to an inaugural schedule of events released yesterday.

Mrs. Phillips said inaugural events will highlight such things as "the act of neighbors helping neighbors, great figures like Dr. [Martin Luther] King who changed the course of our lives . . . the barnstorming of the pioneers . . . the one-room schoolhouse."

After a particularly divisive election, "we wanted to do something that's inclusive of everyone" with a variety of free public events as well as limited festivities restricted to ticket holders, the inaugural leader said.

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INAUGURAL EVENTS

JAN. 18

3:30 p.m.: Opening celebration, Lincoln Memorial

evening (times and locations to be announced): Three candlelight dinners with President-elect George W. …