MASSACHUSETTS governor gives birth to twins

Wednesday, May 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Massachusetts' first family has two new additions _ twin girls.

Acting Gov. Jane Swift gave birth by Caesarean section Tuesday night to Lauren and Sarah, making her the nation's first governor to give birth while in office. Doctors said she and the babies are healthy.

``Chuck and I are overjoyed and excited,'' Swift said in a statement released by her press office. ``We feel blessed to welcome two more children into our family.''

Swift and her husband, Charles Hunt, have one other child, 2 1/2-year-old Elizabeth Ruth. Hunt, 47, also has a grown son from a previous marriage.

Doctors expect Swift to remain in the hospital for four or five days, then to return to her western Massachusetts home for a six- to eight-week working leave.

Swift, the nation's youngest governor at 36, retained full gubernatorial powers while hospitalized for seven days before giving birth. Aides said she plans to preside over a special Governor's Council session via telephone Friday.

``Obviously she is only going to do the bare necessities in terms of being governor, but we have prepared for that,'' said her spokesman, Jason Kauppi. ``She is going to do what new mothers do, she is going to fawn over her kids.''

Tuesday afternoon, Swift was talking energy policy over the phone with Vice President Dick Cheney and other Republican governors when she went into labor. Five hours after she hung up the phone, Lauren Alma Hunt was born, followed by her sister Sarah Jane Hunt.

Lauren weighed 6 pounds; Sarah weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces.

``It all went as smooth as glass,'' Dr. Leila Schueler said about the delivery. She said girls appear to be fraternal twins.

Swift and the babies were ``extremely healthy,'' although Lauren was taken to a special care nursery as a precaution, Schueler said.

``It's pretty common for a girl at this age,'' she said. ``One wasn't breathing as well as her sister.''

Swift took office April 10 following the resignation of Gov. Paul Cellucci to become ambassador to Canada.

Her decision to continue to work by telephone once she was hospitalized _ and not relinquish power to the next in succession, Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin _ provoked almost immediate controversy.

A day after she was admitted, she presided over a Governor's Council meeting by speakerphone. Some on the all-Democratic council, which approves pardons, commutations and judicial appointments, questioned whether it was constitutional for her to preside by telephone. They eased off the criticism after a quick negative backlash the following day.

Swift gave birth to her first child three weeks before she was elected lieutenant governor as Cellucci's running mate in 1998.

She drew criticism after an ethics panel found she created an ``appearance of impropriety'' by allowing aides to baby-sit her daughter. She also apologized for using a state police helicopter to fly home to her family farm more than 130 miles from Boston.

In her first month as acting governor, Swift issued the nation's strictest emissions standards for power plants, signed a no-new-taxes pledge to stress her commitment to fiscal conservatism and formed a task force on adult education.

``She is perfectly capable to govern and lead this state,'' Democratic House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran said. ``Given the technology, and the sensitivity that ordinary people have with regard to this situation, I'm not troubled at all.''