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Better Late Than Never? Clinton Trip to Africa a Testing Experience

By Anne E. Kornblut

NEWARK, N.J. -- Former president Bill Clinton headed out on Monday night for what was supposed to be an impressive and public re-emergence following the Democratic primaries, leading a band of reporters and a delegation of supporters to Africa to tour the work accomplished by his foundation.

But there was a glitch: the back-up 727 carrying the press and some members of his own traveling party had an equipment malfunction on Monday night. And then again in mid-air early Tuesday. And then again on Tuesday night.

As of 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday -- 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, where the former president was about to start his day -- the press contingent was still stuck at an air terminal in Newark, more than 24 hours after the scheduled departure time. No fewer than six technical problems had arisen, including: a shattered window, a broken air conditioning valve, an electrical fire, a problematic oxygen valve and a fussy fuel part.

Some of the more prominent guests, such as Terry McAuliffe, Ted Dansen and Mary Steenburgen, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and his wife, had been lucky enough to ride with Clinton on his 767 aircraft. Others -- including former Transportation secretary Rodney Slater, a documentary crew and this reporter -- were left behind at Hangar 15.

As the second full day of delays set in, normally unfazed Clinton advisers were frantically scouring the planet for an alternate aircraft that could make the trip to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Liberia and Senegal -- no easy task at the last minute, it turns out -- and the allure of a global trot with Clinton had begun to fade for some, prompting some guests (including Slater) to give up and go home. The Clinton office warned that a departure before sometime Wednesday was unlikely.

Some of the dwindling handful of reporters, meanwhile, began looking up commercial flights online (a connecting flight in Khartoum, anyone?) and marveling at what could be dubbed "The Amazing Race: The Clinton episode."

"What was the movie -- 'Alive?' -- when they all crashed and ate each other?" quipped one veteran ABC producer.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 29, 2008; 10:54 PM ET
Categories:  On the Plane  
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qxd Een plaatje zegt alles, toch ? aob Het volledige rapport is hier te vinden. Lees natuurlijk g de blogposting. r v
Thanks for interesting post! nhu
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Posted by: ламинат | August 13, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

So the Clinton trip had a transportation problem, was that worth the amount of space of afforded this article or was it worthy of the disparaging lead to the article which made it sound like it was about Bill Clinton's first trip to Africa!

The Clinton Foundation is supporting worthy causes that deserve all the good publicity they and they should not be used to take pot shots at Bill Clinton.

Posted by: akahidden | July 31, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

So it has no oxygen, is missing a few dozen windows, it's on fire and has no fuel. Boo hoo what happened to going that extra mile for a story ?

No guts,no glory,no Pulitzer

Posted by: Trent | July 31, 2008 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Typical Clinton Fare? I had no idea the former President was known for his prowess at disabling commercial airliners.

Or are you suggesting that because Clinton is involved it'd be "witty" to just provide a generic smug statement?

Either way, I feel bad for the reporters and documentary crew. It sounds like an interesting proposition. Getting a chance to see first hand how a philanthropic effort is actually going is important to holding folks accountable for the work.

Posted by: Spartan299 | July 30, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like typical Clinton fare to me;

As long as they're ok, it doesn't matter what happens to everyone else.

The only thing that will bother Willy is the fact that there won't be cameras there to capture his fabulousness.

Posted by: Susan | July 30, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

PURE karma from his Obama-rally-size-envy. (And karma always comes back to bite ya'.)

Posted by: Carmen Cameron | July 30, 2008 4:28 AM | Report abuse

what a joke, why can't he just build houses like Carter?

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 30, 2008 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Good to see that Air F One has some chaperones.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

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