A slim and smiling Bill Clinton is ready to give his only daughter away.
The former president pulled into upstate Rhinebeck in a black Suburban SUV around lunchtime Friday, casually dressed and looking fit on the eve of daughter Chelsea’s big wedding.
“Today is the most beautiful day ever,” Clinton declared after sharing a pasta lunch with brother Roger, another relative and a friend in the small upstate town.
The crowd let out a huge roar when Clinton – in a black polo shirt and jeans – exited GiGi Trattoria. His party of four took a back table at the local Italian restaurant.
“He looked trim. He lost the weight Chelsea asked him to lose,” said Julie Davis, 35, an Albany actress who ran into Clinton inside the eatery.
“I had just sat down for lunch and was ordering iced tea when I heard someone screaming, ‘It’s him, it’s him!” Davis said. “I said, ‘Gee, this is a pleasant surprise and congratulations.’ He said, ‘Thank you.'””
The restaurant owner, chef Laura Pensiero, is one of the caterers for Friday night’s rehearsal dinner. The wedding of Chelsea and fiancee Marc Mezvinsky is set for Saturday.
“Thank you, thank you,” Clinton told the crowd before leaving about an hour and 45 minutes after his arrival.
Clinton was flanked by the Secret Service when he arrived around the corner from the Beekman Arms Hotel, instantly drawing a huge crowd.
“I shook his hand and said congratulations,” said Bob Szymanski, 64, of Hyde Park, after meeting Clinton on the street.
“It means a lot to the people of Rhinebeck that he took the time to talk to me on his big day,” said Szymanski.
Passersby kept wishing Clinton congratulations, and he responded with a big smile, a wave and a “thank you.”