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Socks Upstages Clintons At Holiday Reading

SATURDAY, DEC. 21, 1996

‘Twas five days before Christmas and at the White House not a child was stirring - until the cat showed up.

In the golden glow of thousands of Christmas tree lights, President Clinton treated Washington-area school children to a round of “Jingle Bells” and his annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas” on Friday.

The president, specially outfitted with a Santa Claus neck tie, even acted out bits of the story with little gestures as first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton nodded along to the poem’s cadence.

But it was Socks, the presidential cat, who starred.

Some four dozen children, who sat primly on the East Room floor and, at the president’s cue, chimed in with the tale’s familiar words, hopped to their feet and mobbed Clinton when Socks was finally delivered by an aide.

“Wait! Wait! Wait! One at a time,” Clinton called as the children, most in their Sunday best, pressed toward the black-and-white cat cradled in the president’s lap. Four military social aides scrambled unsuccessfully to put the children into a line.

As for the president, he seemed glad just to be noticed. When one little girl at the end of his bench beneath the Christmas tree commented, “I saw you on TV,” Clinton flushed.

“I’d be in big trouble if you’d never seen me on TV - you’d wonder if I was working!” he laughed.


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