President Bush plans Anchorage stopover

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- President George Bush is expected to make a stop in Anchorage Saturday on his way to Tokyo.

In Anchorage, the president is expected to speak to military personnel at Elmendorf Air Force Base and attend a fundraiser for Republican candidates at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, according to Anchorage police and center staff.

The White House and the U.S. Air Force would not answer questions about the president's visit. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, announcements about the president's plans are generally made about 48 hours in advance, White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.

Bush's personal protection advance team visited Elmendorf and other locations on Wednesday, said Mike Sweazey, the Anchorage-based U.S. Secret Service agent in charge.

Bush's visit, expected to last a couple of hours, won't include any public appearances, according to Mark Mew, deputy police chief. City police have been asked to help with traffic and security.

The $1,000-a-head fund-raiser scheduled at the center is a benefit for the state Republican Governor's Fund, according to the invitations.

Attendees were told they must supply Social Security numbers.

Republican Party officials learned of the president's stopover ''less than 10 days ago,'' according to state party chairman Randy Ruedrich. He would not discuss any other details of the event.

''This is all in the category of probable until the White House truly formalizes the plan,'' Ruedrich told the Anchorage Daily News.

Former President Clinton stopped in Anchorage at least three times in his two terms. In 1994 he visited Elmendorf, attended a mixer with local politicians at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and ate a bowl of reindeer stew at the Downtown Deli. He made brief refueling stops in 1996 and 1998.

For Bush's visit, the Secret Service will provide security in cooperation with the Air Force, FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Anchorage Police and Alaska State Troopers.

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