Clinton, who also made stops Friday in Los Angeles and San Diego, had landed at the Tustin Marine Corps Helicopter Air Station about 10:30 a.m. At the Boys & Girls Club, the President met with representatives of more than a dozen police officers associations, and then returned to the air base for gatherings with business, education and community leaders on his way out.
Those who greeted him there represented both major parties, including Howard Adler, former chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party; Larry Higby, president of Unocal Products; Milton A. Gordon, president of Cal State Fullerton; and Jack W. Peltason, president of the University of California.
Clinton left the air station about 2:30 p.m. after shaking hands with about 150 service personnel and their families, as well as the CHP motorcycle squad that had escorted him throughout the day.
Not only did Clinton tread deep into Republican country with the visit, his stop in Santa Ana also was in the heart of the congressional district represented by perhaps his most vocal public critic: Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove).
Dornan, who is seeking the GOP's 1996 presidential nomination, was dismissive of Clinton's attempts to reach out to youths seeking guidance.
"Most of those street-smart gang members know that Clinton smoked marijuana and was sexually promiscuous," Dornan said. "How can he give advice [to youths] without ever having apologized for that?"
Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) called Clinton's announcement of an aid package for Los Angeles County on the same day of his visit to Orange County a "political blunder."
"The legislative package in Sacramento linked Los Angeles and Orange counties together," Cox said. "The President rather pointedly ignored Orange County by explicitly disconnecting the two and treating only Los Angeles County."
But on the grounds of Santa Ana's Boys & Girls Club, Clinton was decidedly more popular.
Adults who managed to get inside the club and peek at the President said they were just happy he came and hoped he got a good look at the neighborhood.
Alicia Vargas, 48, lives three doors down from the club. She sat through the ceremony but didn't understand much because she speaks little English, she said.
"We wanted him to see the poverty that we live in here," she said. "There aren't enough jobs and the salaries are too low. There aren't enough health services for our community and they're cutting nurses. . . . I really like the fact that he came to see this place."
Jose Gonzalez, 17, and his friend Brandy Hernandez, 18, jumped up and down squealing, "We love you, Billy!" as Clinton stepped toward the crowd after his speech.
"It was nice that he took the time to come down instead of going to Beverly Hills High," said Hernandez, who shook the President's hand. She also gave Taco Bell a big thanks for "doing a lot for the Hispanic community."
The Santa Ana Boys & Girls Club will receive $22,000 a year for three years from the Taco Bell Foundation, Taco Bell spokeswoman Amy Sherwood said.
"It's just awesome," said Santa Ana City Councilman Robert L. Richardson, who is also vice president of the club's board of directors. "It's just going to enable us to do that much more programming."
Executives of Taco Bell, the nation's largest Mexican-style fast-food restaurant chain, said the company already has installed collection canisters in restaurants across the country to raise $14 million more for the program over the next six years.
Santa Ana was chosen for TEENSupreme's pilot program in part because the needy neighborhood is in the Irvine-based corporation's back yard.
"This is our community and close to where a lot of our employees work and live," said Stevens, a Boys & Girls Club member from his own youth. "There is a need here in Santa Ana. Gang violence is prevalent and it was important for us to do something in the community."
Times staff writers Greg Hernandez, Greg Johnson, Gebe Martinez and Peter M. Warren contributed to this report.
PRAISE FROM POLICE: Police groups meet with Clinton, applaud his policies. A19
CPR FOR L.A. COUNTY: President makes health care system bailout official. A33