Armed with a chair, umbrella, bottled water and a bag of snacks, Sean Brennan stood in line for more than 20 hours outside a Barnes and Noble in Manhattan starting Monday afternoon to deliver a message to Hillary Clinton: “I know that it’s selfish but we really need you to run.”
Brennan, a 41-year-old Queens resident was the first of approximately 1,000 people who waited in the blocks-long line to get a few seconds of face time with Clinton, who on Tuesday launched a book tour for “Hard Choices,” a memoir focusing on her four years as President Obama’s first secretary of state.
Clinton walked into a room at the store around 11:00 am, as the crowd – many who had waited on the sidewalk overnight – erupted in cheers. She offered a brief thank you, saying she had written the book for anyone who wants to “think about why America matters.”
The country has “a lot of hard choices ahead of us,” she added. Left unsaid was the hard choice she faces – whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 after her bruising loss to Obama in 2008.
Clinton’s massively publicized book tour and slew of TV interviews are, of course, being seen as part of a months-long rollout leading up to that decision. Clinton has additional book signing dates this summer in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Austin, San Francisco and Arlington, Va.
If the crowd in New York was any indication, a Clinton candidacy is all but assured. Many said they came for one reason: to meet the woman, who they believe, will be the next commander-in-chief.
“I came to have something personally touched by the next president. It’s history,” said Jose Anaias, a 59-year-old retired postal worker, who lives in Harlem. His friend, a 68-year-old retired teacher Olivia Hector chimed in: “I’m going to tell her: ‘run, Hillary, run!’”
Clinton has said she’ll make a decision on running by the end of the year. In the meantime, a slugfest is in the works between groups supporting and opposing her candidacy.
The pro-Clinton political action committee Ready for Hillary was also at the book signing, parking its 37-foot-5-inch long :Hillary Bus” right outside the Barnes and Noble.
Volunteers were handing out stickers and signing up supporters. The bus will follow Clinton on her book tour this summer, with the PAC using the events as a prime opportunity to build on an existing 2-million-plus supporter list in the event that she does run.
On the other side the conservative America Rising PAC, which has also sought opportunity in the memoir’s release.
The group is releasing its own “anti-Hillary” e-book called “Failed Choices.” The 140-page critique, obtained by msnbc, assumes Clinton’s presidential run is all but guaranteed and paints the former first lady as a terrible manager, a liar who refused to take responsibility for her actions, a calculating diplomat who took great for successful policies she once opposed and failed to make the country’s enemies any weaker or relationships with allies any stronger.
Republicans are also pouncing on Clinton’s comments during an interview with ABC on Monday, in which the former first lady said she and her husband, Bill Clinton, left the White House in early 2001 “dead broke” and struggled to pay mortgages on their two multimillion dollar homes.
On Tuesday morning, Clinton sought to clarify those remarks, telling the network: “I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans.”
She added, “Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we continue to work hard.”
Conservatives are pointing to the initial gaffe as evidence that Clinton is out of touch with ordinary Americans. But her fans don’t see it that way.
At the book signing, two girls, Margaret Caris, 11, and Solenne Wolfe, 12, said they had skipped school to meet Clinton. They showed up by themselves at 7:15 a.m. with Snapples and lollipops for fuel. Even though she can’t vote, Caris said Clinton is “inspiring” because she could be the first woman president.
Cutting classes was worth it, said Wolfe. “It’s not every day you can get a book signed by someone who could be our next president.”
And even though Brennan has stayed up the entire night, he has no intention of sleeping when he goes back home. “I’m going to crawl into bed and read the book,” he said.