President Clinton went shopping online for the first time Monday, buying horsehair bracelets and children's books as holiday gifts. The self-professed "technologically challenged" president got on the Internet from the White House Oval Office, using a Compaq laptop computer emblazoned with the presidential seal and a mouse set on his antique wooden desk.
Clinton bought the bracelets at www.lakotafund.org, a Web site run by a private, nonprofit group set up to help South Dakota's Lakota Native Americans, and the books at www.world2market.com, which sells items made by artisans from around the world.
White House spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said it was Clinton's first foray into Internet shopping and said he had only examined the two sites.
She declined to say who would receive the gifts, saying she did not want to spoil the surprise.
According to the Lakota Fund Web site, a bracelet made with a single braid of yellow- and red-dyed horsehair costs $21; the triple-braided version with white, black, red and yellow horsehair sells for $26.
The Lakota Fund was started to help stimulate the private sector at the Pine Ridge Reservation, a hardscrabble area of 22,000 people that Clinton visited in July during a tour of poor U.S. regions.
A search of the www.world2market.com for children's books produced items ranging from a $16 book of artwork and writings by North Carolina students about an imaginary land called Xanadu to a $40 coffee-table book of children's photographs.
Chitre said Clinton used an American Express card to pay for the gifts because of the company's policy of offering consumers protection for online shopping.
He had the gifts shipped to the White House, she added, saying she expected that he used the special ZIP code that routes mail to the president's residence.
Asked if Clinton, who typically buys last-minute gifts on Christmas Eve, had completed his Christmas shopping, the spokeswoman replied, "I doubt it."