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Presidential 'Slumber Party' Keeps Talk Going to Midnight

September 15, 1993|DAVID LAUTER

WASHINGTON — As an event in history, the night did not rival the day. But after witnessing the signing of the first peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush spent Monday night at the White House--marking the first time that three people who held the nation's highest office slumbered under the same roof.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the three men took the opportunity to do one of the things successful politicians do best--talk. After attending a White House dinner in honor of the peace agreement, Bush, Carter and Clinton spent hours talking about the Middle East, the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and politics in general, according to White House officials.

Bush, who generally goes to bed early, bailed out first and headed to the Queen's Bedroom shortly after 11 p.m. The visit was Clinton's first meeting with Bush since his inauguration. "I wouldn't say it was awkward," Clinton told reporters Tuesday. "It got more informal as it went along."

After Bush retired, Clinton and Carter talked until well after midnight. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, slept in the Lincoln Bedroom. That made for at least a 21-hour day for Clinton, who had arisen at 3 a.m. Monday to read the Bible and work on his speech for Monday's ceremony.

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