Never have both major candidates for president visited Salt Lake City on the same day - until today, when motorcades and back-to-back appearances at the Salt Palace disrupted downtown traffic during the morning.
Salt Lake police Sgt. Don Bell, who heads the department's intelligence unit, said his group was in a planning session Monday determining how to handle President Bush's visit when they heard Bill Clinton was coming.Bush had canceled earlier plans to visit, and Clinton had declined an invitation to speak. Then Vice President Dan Quayle said he'd be here. Then he decided not to show. Bush reconsidered, and announced plans to speak to some 4,500 members of the National Guard Association of the United States, who are holding a convention here this week.
Clinton decided he'd also like to speak to the National Guard, as long as he was going to be in the West, anyway. So both candidates appeared at the Salt Palace, Bush at 9 a.m., Clinton an hour and a half later.
And because both candidates were under full Secret Service protection, traffic was disrupted in various areas.
"I know in the morning it's going to be a headache because there are going to be full-blown motorcades for both of them," Bell said Monday evening.
Add the 4,500 National Guard members and State Fair traffic and the usual complement of downtown drivers, and the headache could develop into a migraine.
The security scramble was already on Monday night. Bush arrived at Salt Lake International Airport about 10:30 p.m., Clinton at 11:05 p.m.
Bush and his attendants were whisked to the Marriott Hotel, where he has stayed during previous visits.
Clinton and his entourage stayed at Snowbird. Security and marketing staffers there didn't find out until late Monday afternoon that the candidate would be there, said spokeswoman Leslie Andrew.
The Democratic entourage had reserved 75 rooms, not counting those taken by the attendant news people.
"Right now, everyone's just trying to get their jobs done to make sure he has everything he needs," Andrew said. "I think it's kind of exciting to have someone of that stature staying here. It's unfortunate he can't stay longer."
Marriott Hotel employees declined to comment on the president's visit.
Candidates' visit is rare for Utah
Tuesday's appearances by President Bush and Bill Clinton is the first time in recent memory that both presidential candidates were in Salt Lake City on the same day.
In September 1984, President Ronald Reagan and Democratic hopeful Walter Mondale both addressed the national American Legion convention in the Salt Palace. However, Reagan spoke on one day, Mondale the next.
In June 1988, Democratic presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson both addressed the national convention of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. But then-Vice President George Bush decided not to attend. In fact, Bush didn't visit the state at all that election year.
Bush, as president or candidate, didn't visit Utah until a year ago - three years into his first term. At that time, he attended a Republican Party fund-raiser. He returned just two months ago to address a partisan rally at Brigham Young University. So Tuesday's visit marked his third in 12 months.
The visits by Mondale and Dukakis didn't help their candidacies in Utah. Each lost big-time to their Republican opponents.