Minnesotans attend Clinton inauguration

WASHINGTON (AP) Minnesota DFLers celebrated the start of President Clinton’s second term Monday, but the mood was more cautious, less upbeat, than four years ago when he became the first Democratic president in 12 years.
“It’s more somber,” Rep. David Minge, D-Minn., said of the Inauguration Day mood as he snacked at a reception sponsored by the Minnesota State Society and the University of Minnesota’s alumni association.
“It’s more realistic about the prospects of realistic change.”
Lyla Kimball, a former resident of Oklee, Minn., who has been going to inaugurations since Eisenhower’s second swearing-in 40 years ago, said the mood this year was “almost blase.”
Rep. Jim Ramstad, one of the few Republicans to appear at the reception, said this year’s inauguration was less lavish, less momentous and “more low key” than four years ago.
At the time, Democrats were giddy about their chances of enacting far-reaching legislation. After all, their party controlled both the White House and Congress. Now, Republicans control Congress.
Still, for DFL activists, Inauguration Day was a chance to celebrate the successes of the 1996 election — Clinton carried the state easily and Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone breezed to re-election — and to renew some campaign friendships.
“It almost feels surreal, seeing all the monuments,” said Kathy Regalado, a DFL activist from Bloomington who was making only her second trip to Washington.
“It does feel like a celebration after the long work of the campaign,” she said.
For Phil Riveness, a former state senator from Bloomington, coming to the inauguration was an emotional reward for his work on the Clinton campaign.
“It’s nice to work on something and see some success,” he said.
Clinton’s inaugural address, in which he called for racial and political unity, was well received by the Minnesotans.
Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, who is black, said she stood up and applauded several times. He “addressed squarely the issue of race relations,” she said. “It was a good message for us to hear.”
Ramstad, who represents the western Minneapolis suburbs, said Clinton “set a very appropriate tone of reconciliation. I also think he was very, very inspirational.”
Clinton’s emphasis on reconciliation was very important, Minge said.
Monday night was a last chance to party before the start of business Tuesday in Congress. For Minnesotans there was the official ball for Midwestern states in the National Air and Space Museum and an alternative ball for Minnesotans only at a downtown Italian restaurant.
Meanwhile, Minnesota had one entry in Monday afternoon’s inaugural parade, the Mille Lacs Dance Troupe from the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa.
Children dressed in buckskin and feathers danced while adults beat a drum as the group trekked up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The tribe paid the troupe’s expenses.