Possible Clinton candidacy draws many to Northshire


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Hillary Clinton might be taking the presidential oath of office on the U.S. Capitol steps 30 months from now.

That's why more than 1,200 people turned out Tuesday to greet the former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State at Northshire Bookstore, where she signed copies of her book, "Hard Choices."

Many got up early and drove long distances for the opportunity, which wasn't a hard choice at all, considering the possibility of Clinton becoming the first woman president in U.S. history.

"I think she's wonderful; she'd be an awesome president," said Molly Zeif, of Manchester, Vt., a college student studying political science and international relations.

Clinton, wearing a striking black-and white suit, began signing books shortly after noon time. However, people started showing up several hours beforehand and formed a long line that stretched from Broadway all the way down Caroline Street to Maple Avenue.

Only people who purchased books - $29.95 apiece - were allowed entry to the store, heavily guarded by local police and Secret Service. Clinton did not address the press and customers could not take photos of her. However, she greeted each person individually, sometimes with a simple "Thank you for coming by," while engaging others -- especially kids -- with longer talks about school, future plans or common acquaintances.

Cathy Allis, of Saratoga Springs, once co-wrote a New York Times crossword puzzle with former President Bill Clinton, which she's tried unsuccessfully to have autographed. After explaining her plight to Mrs. Clinton, she's hopeful of realizing her goal.

"She gave me her assistant's card," Allis said. "Now I feel connected to both of them. This whole thing is fantastic. I didn't want to miss it."

Hillary Clinton is no stranger to the Spa City, having visited in the past as U.S. Senator. One trip several years ago included an afternoon stop at Saratoga Race Course.

"Do you live up here?" she asked one man. "You're very lucky. It's a beautiful place. It's wonderful to be back."

Another patron told Clinton that he'd recently met Paul McCartney, at an Albany concert, and that he was excited to meet her, too, "all in one year."

"Isn't he (McCartney) amazing?" Clinton said.

"He is," the man replied. "You're more amazing."

Visitors ranged in age from toddlers to seniors, some getting around with the assistance of walkers, wheelchairs and canes.

"Are you in school? Out of school?" Clinton asked one girl. "Have you taken a language already in high school? Where do you plan to go to college?"

To a Jewish patron, who told Clinton about a recent achievement, she said, "I'm so proud to meet you. Mazel tov!"

Clinton hasn't announced her intentions to seek the Oval Office yet, but events such as this are a mobilizing force for those who hope she does. Many people wore stickers saying: "I'm ready for Hillary."

However, a small number of detractors also showed up. As people stood in line on Caroline Street, two protesters marched down the opposite side with posters that said: "Benghazi: We will not forget" and "Hillary: Whitewater Witch."

"She's going to be our next president," a Clinton supporter yelled back.

Saratoga Springs police and Saratoga County Sheriff's Office deputies patrolled the area on foot -- including a K-9 unit -- horseback and in cars. Of course, Clinton has her own security detail, too.

"Mrs. Clinton and Secret Service come as a package deal," city police Lt. Sean Briscoe said.

Mary Browne, of Berne, said she left home at 7 a.m. to meet Clinton.

"I'm 75," she said. "Let's not waste time. If she's going to be our next president I'd like to say hi. I've met every one of them, starting with Jimmy Carter. I worked on a Habitat for Humanity project with him in South Dakota."

Browne said she believes Clinton would make an exceptional president.

"She'll have a balanced outlook on things," she said. "It's exciting to think of a woman in the presidency."

Josh Vellozzi, of Albany, made a special trip to Saratoga Springs a few weeks ago to buy "Hard Choices" and came back again Tuesday to meet its author.

"She's going to be the next president; that's a good enough reason," he said. "And to be around a powerful woman, too."

"I'm hoping she runs," said Jeff McLellan, of Saratoga Springs. "It's really an opportunity to meet with a political person of national prominence."

Teachers Laura Lewis and Danielle Lambert said they can't wait to share their experience with students this fall.

"Its' really exciting," said Lewis, who teaches ninth grade world history at Schuylerville.

Lambert, of Saratoga Springs, teaches social studies in Gloversville.

"It's a huge opportunity to go back to our classes and say, ‘You, too, could meet a world leader,'" she said.


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