Since the 1960’s Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage has hosted Presidents, national and world leaders.
News Channel 3's Karen Devine spoke exclusively with Ambassador David Lane, President of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands who says they've reached out to President-elect Joe Biden and are hopeful he and his administration will make use of the estate in the next four years.
Sunnylands, is a globally known retreat for high level government discussions, and it’s right here in our back yard. The Rancho Mirage estate is the vision of Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, for 40 years, welcoming world leaders.
In 2001, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands was established to address serious issues facing the nation and the world community.
“They believed in civic engagement and people coming together from across the isle and treating each other with respect and you know the conversations that would take place would be safe, constructive conversations with people from different points of view,” says David Lane, President of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands.
There is certainly a history of that happening at Sunnylands with eight U.S. Presidents including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama who not only visited the estate but worked on and made executive decisions, while hosting global leaders.
Reporter Karen Devine asked Lane, "What was like for President Obama to come three different times and what does that means for the legacy of Sunnylands?”
“That really put us on the map as no longer a private home but a place that convenes people around big global questions. He liked it so much when he hosted Xi Jinping for his get to know you weekend that when they asked him where he would like to meet with King Abdullah, let’s go back out to Sunnylands. And, he said the same thing about the ASEAN Summit.”
President Trump came to the Coachella Valley early this year for a private campaign fundraiser. During his four-year term he never personally utilized Sunnylands.
“In spite of the fact that he didn’t visit, I was looking at the figures the other day, we had retreats here over the last four years that 58 members of his administration participated in one way or another. On China, on India, on U.S./Mexico relations, and on illegal fishing in the Pacific,” said Lane.
And while Presidential visits get the headlines, according to Lane, the work with any given administration goes on because of the mandate to make Sunnylands available to promote world peace and facilitate international agreement.
Devine asked "What are the odds we're going to see President-elect Biden here in the desert?"
Lane responded, "It's pushing through an open door to tell the President-Elect about Sunnylands, they all know about it, so I think it's a high probability, the other thing is we engage on global issues primarily and that is his historic area of emphasis."
He also said it wouldn't surprise him if Vice President-elect Kamala Harris makes an appearance, being that she's from the west coast and no stranger to the desert.
When asked how the Annenbergs might feel about their legacy and how Sunnylands is being run today, Lane said, "I think if they were alive today they'd be urging us to find a way to promote civil renewal, good citizenship and engagement by citizens but also by leaders and people with different views and I think that's maybe our, our most important aspiration over the next couple of years."
Because of the pandemic, Sunnylands remains closed to the public. Normally visitors can tour the world-renowned gardens and Annenberg estate. Check Sunnylands.org for information on re-opening.