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Jilted In Jupiter

The President And The Shark

Just Doing My Job, Mr. President

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Sorry, Al

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The Presidential Knee: A Notebook

Jilted In Jupiter

JUPITER, Fla. (AllPolitics, March 14) -- President Bill Clinton's knee injury forced him to cancel a visit with students at Lighthouse Elementary School in Jupiter, Fla. this morning. The president phoned students from Air Force One on the way to Washington to apologize for not making their date. "I'm so disappointed," Clinton told the children. "I really wish I were there. I wanted so much to come and visit because I've heard so much about the school." The children were forgiving, sending their president a chorus of "Hope you feel better!" School superintendent Joan Kowal told the president he was missing the lemon cake and Diet Coke they had brought for him. Saying he hoped to reschedule, Clinton answered, "Save 'em, I'll be there." Clinton also sent birthday greetings to 11-year-old student body president Marcy Haylett, who had been selected to introduce the president. The school's assistant principal Frank Baiano told The Associated Press that though the kids understood, "There were a lot of disappointed children coming off cars and buses this morning."

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The President And The Shark

HOBE SOUND, Fla. (AllPolitics, March 14) -- For an avid golfer like President Bill Clinton, his weekend plans must have seemed the perfect retreat from the unpleasantries of Washington. He was to stay at golf champ Greg Norman's 80-acre oceanside compound and play in Norman's two-day golf tournament. Following their gab-fest, which ended early Friday morning, the two men headed outside toward the Jupiter Island estate's cottage where Clinton planned to spend the night. But the president's idyll soon ended as he caught his heel on an "irregular-shaped" step, causing his right knee to "pop" and buckle under. Norman, too, got more than he bargained for as the Australian native, a.k.a. The Shark, found himself breaking Clinton's fall. When paramedics rushed to the scene, Norman and a Secret Service agent were supporting Clinton's head. Paramedic Richard Wilde told The Associated Press, "If it wasn't for Greg Norman, he probably would have been hurt a lot more. Those were concrete steps." Despite the disappointing end to a promising weekend, the president kept his sense of humor, joking about his last conversation with his host. "I saw Greg Norman this morning; I told him my handicap is going up by the minute," Clinton said.

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Just Doing My Job, Mr. President

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. (AllPolitics, March 14) -- Having an ambulance ready and waiting at a presidential stop is standard procedure, but the paramedics standing by generally don't see much action. Early this morning was an exception for paramedics Marc Ducote and Richard Wilde. As they were sitting in the parked ambulance, six or seven Secret Service Agents came running up. As soon as one called out, "The president fell," Ducote and Wilde were grabbing equipment and rushing to the stairs. There they found the president holding his knee. Following a brief examination, the paramedics and agents loaded Clinton into the ambulance and took off for St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach. While Wilde drove, Ducote immobilized and iced the president's knee.

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Health To The Chief

BETHESDA, Md. (AllPolitics, March 14) -- The presidential suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital has been familiar territory for the nation's three most recent chief executives. Before being taken there this afternoon for emergency knee surgery, President Bill Clinton underwent minor surgery in September 1996 to have a benign cyst removed from his neck. Clinton's predecessor, President George Bush, was hospitalized for two days in May 1991 with an irregular heartbeat. Bush also suffered from Graves Disease, characterized by an overactive thyroid, which was treated with radioactive iodine. President Ronald Reagan would see the inside of the Bethesda Naval operating room four times during his two-term presidency. He underwent major surgery for the removal of a cancerous growth from his large intestine in 1985 and minor procedures for the removal of two benign polyps, an enlarged prostate and Dupuytrin's contracture (a condition that caused his left hand to curve inward).

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Sorry, Al

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 14) -- No transfer of executive power from President Bill Clinton to his vice president, Al Gore, should be necessary during the president's knee surgery this afternoon. During the procedure Clinton will receive a regional anesthetic, allowing him to remain alert and conscious. The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1967, lays out the rules for such a transfer in the event of presidential disability, and Clinton and Gore have a secret contingency plan for invoking that law. Only one president has taken advantage of the 25th Amendment: Ronald Reagan. He was roundly criticized for not handing over responsibility to Vice President George Bush following the 1981 assassination attempt. So Bush was made acting president while Reagan underwent cancer surgery in 1985. Reagan reclaimed his powers eight hours later.

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