LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - President Clinton celebrated a quiet 54th birthday Saturday with his family in the Adirondack Mountains, careful not to divert attention from Al Gore's campaign.
''The president is laying low,'' said Jake Siewert, White House spokesman.
The president, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, daughter Chelsea and family dog Buddy holed up at the home of Arthur Lussi, a wealthy real estate man who owns area resorts.
Gore, meantime, was continuing his Mississippi River boat trip - and celebrating wife Tipper's 52nd birthday, also Saturday - on his first post-convention political trip as the Democratic nominee for president.
For Clinton, the birthday wishes started long before the actual day.
Two weeks ago, singer Carly Simon sang ''Happy Birthday, Mr. President'' to him at a party on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, where he has celebrated his birthday the past three years.
On his way into Lake Placid on Friday, Clinton stopped and got out along railroad tracks to greet people displaying a sign that read ''Happy Birthday, Mr. President.''
Clinton's chocolate Labrador was more interested in sniffing the weeds. ''Come on, Bud,'' Clinton said, getting back in his vehicle.
Down the road, he stopped the motorcade again to greet residents who gave him a weak, and slightly out-of-tune, birthday serenade. Later that evening, party loyalists broke into a spontaneous ''Happy Birthday to you ...'' at a three-county Democratic Party picnic.
On Saturday, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise printed pictures of birthday greetings drawn by local children. Maria Trumbell of Saranac Lake, N.Y., wrote: ''Roses are red, violets are blue, blow out the candles so your wish will come true.''
Also Saturday, in Dubuque, Iowa, Gore arranged to have a string quartet play a birthday greeting as his wife emerged from an elevator into a hotel lobby. The vice president, daughter Karenna, and her husband, Drew Schiff, softly sang ''Happy Birthday.''
''Oh that's nice,'' said a surprised Tipper Gore.
A family celebration was planned for late Saturday in Clinton, Iowa.
As president, Clinton has celebrated one birthday in Washington, one in Wyoming, four in Massachusetts and two now in New York.
His 49th birthday was marred by sadness over an accident in Bosnia that killed three top U.S. diplomats trying to broker and end to the civil war. When he turned 50, Clinton attended a glitzy, $10 million fund-raiser at Radio City Music Hall.
His next three birthdays were celebrated on Martha's Vineyard with friends, including actor Ted Danson and golfing partner and confidant, Vernon Jordan.
Celebrating his 52nd birthday with family was a bit strained: It came just two days after he publicly apologized to them for an inappropriate relationship with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
This birthday comes five days after his farewell speech at the Democratic National Convention where he noted his own gray hair and reminisced: ''I was born in a summer storm to a young widow in a small Southern town ... .''