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Laura Daniels’ Brush With President Clinton [VIDEO]

When it comes to today’s visit from President Obama, I’ll admit it, I’m spoiled.

I use that term because I’ve had not one, not two, but three Presidential experiences. They’re not EXCITING experiences (well, one was), but I’m not as excited as the rest of WNY seems to be.

In the 15 years I spent in Albany, President Obama visited twice, so the whole traffic-will-be-crazy-with-the-motorcade thing…the whole get-a-picture-of-Air-Force-One thing…the whole once-in-a-lifetime thing…been there, done that.


However, in 1996, when President Clinton was rehearsing for the debates in his second run for the Office, he selected Chautauqua Institution as his retreat. Having waited tables at The Athenaeum (known as “The A” to employees) the previous summer and been trained in 5-star dining, I was selected to be on the staff for his visit. And It. Was. Awesome.

A few highlights:

…having a German Shepard sniff through my ’88 Dodge Shadow every morning was actually kind of neat…

…meeting the Secret Service (and later sharing vodka shots with some of them!) was really cool…

…shaking the First Lady’s hand was very impressive…

…polishing silverware you knew the First Family was going to be using was surreal…

…waiting on George Stephanopolis? Weird. Why? All he wanted for dinner — despite having some of the most decorated chefs in the state preparing meals — was German Chocolate Cake. Of course, we didn’t have it on hand, so one of those esteemed chefs had to run to the nearest gourmet bakery and pick one up. (And yes, he IS that short. I felt like a redwood standing next to him!)…

…In the video below, it begins at the 1:10 mark where he first walks into “The A”, and all of us were standing in the background, giddy. Around the 2:20 mark, you’ll see the bottom of the staircase at “The A”, where I met my first Secret Service man, named Mark. And to the right of that staircase is the dining room, where Mr. Clinton and the rest of the presidential staff dined for 3-4 meals a day.

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