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Chelsea Clinton: Ready to Take Over the Family Business


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UK Telegraph:

Chelsea Clinton's wedding: ready for her big moment and more
As Chelsea Clinton prepares for her wedding, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that she is also being groomed for a role with the Clinton Foundation

By Philip Sherwell in New York
Published: 9:00AM BST 25 Jul 2010

Her father was the once world's most powerful politician, her mother is now the USA's top diplomat and both are immediately recognised around the globe.
So it is all the more remarkable that Chelsea Clinton has done such a good job of avoiding the spotlight for much of her life.

But that is about to change. Next weekend the former first daughter is to marry her long-time boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, a financier - an event which, with a glittering array of guests expected from around the world, will put her unavoidably in the spotlight.

What is more, The Sunday Telegraph has been told that Miss Clinton is also being groomed to take on her parents' formidable legacy on the international stage.

Armed with a newly-acquired master's degree in public health from New York's prestigious Columbia University, she is being lined up for a top role at the philanthropic foundation set up by her father, ex-president Bill Clinton.

The expectation among friends and family is that she will eventually take over its running from her father - ensuring that, as he eventually assumes a lower public profile, that part of his legacy continues to be burnished for a generation to come.

For now, however, Miss Clinton, 30, clearly has other priorities. On Saturday, she will marry Mr Mezvinsky, 32, an investor banker whose parents both served in Congress and whose father recently completed a different sort of term - five years in prison for fraud.

The bride has done her best to keep the details secret. Her mother, secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said in Pakistan last week that she is under strict orders to let nothing slip, although she did reveal that her husband was a bundle of nerves.
The 400 guests have so far only been told that they should make sure they are within driving distance of New York next weekend. But it will come as no surprise when they are informed that their destination is a country mansion just outside Rhinebeck, 90 miles north of the city.

More specifically, unless the family has deployed huge resources and scores of Secret Service agents in one of the great bluffs of all time, they will be directed to Astor Courts, a 26,000 sq ft mansion inspired by Versailles and built by tycoon John Jacob Astor IV who later died on the Titanic.

A partial guest list has also emerged in and it just as glittering as might be expected for the only child of American political royalty. President Barack Obama, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, singer Barbra Streisand, Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg, media baron Ted Turner and a clutch of Clintonista politicos have reportedly been invited.

So too have the two British prime ministers who were Mr Clinton's counterparts during his presidency - Tony Blair, with whom the Clintons are close, and perhaps more surprisingly John Major. There may be one notable absentee - Mr Obama is thought to have politely declined in the hope of preventing the event becoming even more of a media scrum.
What Miss Clinton does next is, of course, shrouded in the secrecy she so desires. Mr Clinton has evidently confided to friends that he hopes to become a grandfather. And his daughter is expected to take on an increasing role with his foundation - with the ultimate goal that she could succeed him and continue the family brand on the world stage.
For now, the 63-year-old ex-president maintains a tough international schedule, despite his heart problems. In February - after a trip to Haiti with his daughter - he was taken to hospital with chest pains and was fitted with two stents to restore blood flow to a coronary artery, five years after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. But one day he will have to listen to doctors' advice to slow down.

Miss Clinton studiously avoids media attention, gives no interviews and has shown no interest in following her parents' into politics - despite her assured and impressive appearances on the campaign trail for her mother during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary race.

Rather than return to her job at Avenue Capital, a New York hedge fund run by a prominent Clinton donor, she went back to college to study health policy and management at Columbia.

She took courses that focused on international health initiatives and programmes to tackle Aids - just the sort of work conducted by the Clinton Foundation, set up by her father in New York after he left the White House in 2001. He has since turned his Clinton Global Initiative meetings into a glitzy fixture on the world charity calendar.

Miss Clinton's interest in global health issues is long-standing. As a student, she interned one summer at the World Health Organization in Geneva, working on a United Nations initiative on healthy environments for children.
"If you look at what Chelsea has studied and what she specialised in, it all points to her being groomed to take over the Clinton Foundation," said an insider at Columbia.

A political acquaintance of the Clintons said that the prospect that she would eventually replace her father at the head of the foundation was also often discussed among family confidantes.

And David McDowell, a leading New York psychiatrist who has studied the Clinton family dynamic, said: "Legacy is clearly very important to the Clintons and they are also by all accounts great parents. So as Chelsea has clearly made a decision to stay out of politics, what better way to carry on the legacy than for her to end up running the foundation?"
Miss Clinton has remained fiercely loyal to her parents, during the toughest times politically and personally. That devotion was captured in an iconic image at the height of the impeachment controversy over her father's affair with Monica Lewinsky when the 18-year-old was pictured between her parents, holding their hands as they walked across the White House lawns unable to look at each other.

That was a part of the transformation she underwent after she moved into the White House as a gawky 12-year-old with braces and a mane of frizzy hair. The Clintons, for all their love of the public spotlight, did an impressive job of shielding their daughter from the media during her teenage years.

After school, she studied first at Stanford University in California and then followed her father's footsteps to Oxford. And it was during her time in England that she had her brief flirtation with the celebrity world.

Miss Clinton unveiled a sleek bob hairstyle at a Versace fashion show where she sat and chatted with Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, and was seen dancing with Paul McCartney, dining with Bianca Jagger and drinking with Bono from U2.
She also met her first serious boyfriend at Oxford - Ian Klaus, a Rhodes scholar like her father. But they split after her return to America where she worked first as a management consultant for McKinsey and then for the hedge fund - acquiring the sort of managerial and financial acumen that would be extremely valuable at the Clinton Foundation.
She also started dating Mr Mezvinsky, a decade after they first met as teens in the 1990s. But perhaps the signs were always present - there is a famous picture of a youthful Chelsea looking admiringly at the handsome older boy while their parents attended a Democratic retreat.

They have both since endured the experience of scandals engulfing their fathers. It is not known if Ed Mezvinsky, 73, a former Democratic congressman convicted of $10 million fraudulent business deals and released from prison in 2008, will join the party on Saturday.

Another uncertainty is the religious make-up of the ceremony: Miss Clinton is the daughter of a Methodist mother and a Southern Baptist father, while the Mezvinsky family is Jewish from the Conservative movement.

Miss Clinton has returned to her preferred low profile since her mother's failed presidential run. But she is sighted out and about in Manhattan where the couple lives in an apartment they bought for $3.8 million in the fashionable Flatiron district - a few subways stops on the express train from the foundation's Harlem offices.

And she has twice accompanied her father on his foreign trips - on a tour across Africa focused on his foundation's work on poverty and Aids, as well as to Haiti after the devastating Jan 12 earthquake.

Mrs Clinton was herself globe-trotting last week, visiting Afghanistan, Pakistan, South Korea and Vietnam even as she checked arrangements for July 31 on her Blackberry and fired off emails calling herself MOTB (mother of the bride).
One issue on which she offered long-distance maternal advice on a previous trip was the choice of wedding dress. When Miss Clinton is given away by her slimmed-down father - he said recently that he was close to the 15 pound weight loss she has prescribed - she will be wearing a gown by the designer Oscar de la Renta, a favourite of her mother.

But it was her husband's ability to get through the day that seemed to give Mrs Clinton most concern. "You should assume that if he makes it down the aisle in one piece it's a major accomplishment," she said last week. "He is going to be so emotional, as am I."
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