Saturday, July 5, 2008

How Hillary Rodham Clinton surprised me

Last night, my husband and I took a break from work, volunteerism, and looking after the household in order to host friends for an Independence Day celebration, including watching a particularly lovely fireworks display over the Potomac River.

After the fireworks, we all sat around, snacked, conversed and made each other laugh quite a bit. Most of our conversation did not take us into the the topic of politics. But I did share a story or two about some of my experiences traveling for Senator Clinton. At that point, one member of our merry set asked me a question that really made me think. He asked, who, out of all the people I had met during the course of the primary season had surprised me the most, for good or for ill?

So many people flashed through my mind, people who surprised me with their open minds, their generosity, their graciousness when I visited their cities and towns. Rank and file Democrats like myself; prominent Democrats ranging from Rodney Slater to Mary Steenburgen; Independent voters who contributed - and continue to contribute - their thoughts and talents to Senator Clinton's candidacy and efforts to fix the D.N.C.

Suddenly, though, I knew the precisely correct answer for my friend. The person who surprised me the most in the course of my travels during the primary season was Senator Clinton herself, and she surprised me at a very particular moment right here in Washington, D.C.

I was there when Senator Clinton delivered a stirring speech at the National Building Museum: the speech where she emphasized that she was suspending but not ending her campaign; focused most of her time discussing the people and policies she will continue to fight for; and highlighted the "18 million cracks in the highest hardest glass ceiling" her candidacy for President achieved during the primary season.

Senator Clinton's speech impressed me but it did not surprise me. The surprise came at a relatively small private reception held near the Museum just after Senator Clinton's speech. The reception was sponsored by President Clinton and Senator Clinton. Many of us got there before the Clintons did since we did not have hands to shake or Secret Service arrangements to respect. When Senator Clinton and President Clinton arrived, they were rapidly surrounded by well-wishers, friends, people who had worked so hard to raise money and rally support for the campaign.

I did want a chance to thank Senator Clinton for her candidacy, so I joined the line to speak with her. Now, I have only met Senator Clinton personally several times, and she has of course met thousands, indeed millions, of people in the past 18 months or so especially. So I never expect her to remember my face or even my name.

When I did reach Senator Clinton at the reception, I handed her a glass of water I had gotten for her (since it was clear she was not going to easily make it to the serving tables!), and I asked her to look at the photo I have of when she so graciously joined me in a hug the first time I met her. I wanted her to see the photo because I had shared it with her campaign staffers whenever I traveled, and it always lifted their morale, making them laugh and smile.

After quickly looking at the photograph, Senator Clinton looked at me as when does when trying to place a face. She said, I think I do know who you are. You live in Washington [D.C.] right? Do you work for the government? I replied that yes, I lived in town (other people at the reception were from all over the country) but that I did not work for the government but for Georgetown University Law Center. Senator Clinton asked about my scholarly work. Since time was short, I said that a project I was working on at the moment is a co-authored piece comparing provision of health insurance in the U.S. with provision in the E.U.

At that second, I watched Senator Clinton go, in an instant, from a candidate chatting with a supporter, to a working person with a mission. She locked eyes with me and said, I want to see that article as soon as possible. I was momentarily taken aback (academics are not generally asked by politicians for copies of their scholarly work), and then inquired about how to get it to her. Again, in an all-business manner, Senator Clinton said, have it delivered directly to me at my Senate office.

Talk about multi-tasking, about never taking your mind off the issues that matter to you. On a steamy hot day after delivering a major speech, Senator Clinton had no problem staying focused - more than focused - on health care, one of her passions. She spoke to me as one professional to another in that exchange, in a setting not designed for that sort of conversation.

Today, I will be working on that article. And thinking of the friend who made me realize when Hillary Rodham Clinton surprised me.

14 Comments:

OpenID rktothemk said...

Oh, that made me blub, at the wasted opportunity. Do we have any idea how much debt is left to retire?

July 5, 2008 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger GeekLove said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I too had the pleasure of meeting her, but it was not in such intimate setting but at rallys. Twice I was able to shake her hand and tell her to keep fighting. And although she is not actively campaigning, I believe that she will never stop fighting for the causes that are important to her (and us).

July 5, 2008 at 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Virginia said...

Hi Heidi,

Just a note to let you know how much I admire you for all that you do in maintaining your personal life, your career, and your efforts on behalf of Sen. Clinton.

As Obama moves farther and farther right and the difference between his positions on policies and those of John McCain continues to shrink, I yearn for the re-emergence of Hillary Clinton, the one candidate progressive Democrats could count on.

July 5, 2008 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous ginaswo said...

thank you for sharing that Heidi

blub blub

I lurvs Hillary, we need her brilliant mind and her incredible heart and her passion in all its wonky glory!!

HILLARY WILL BE POTUS

July 5, 2008 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous joann4 said...

Heidi,
You have been so strong in your support for Hillary that I want to thank you for sharing this special moment that the two of you shared. We can all see the sham of the Obama coronation as a very costly mistake by the DNC. I hope Hillary's name is put up for a ballot at the Convention. I'm for a do-over. I also made a donation today to retire Hillary's debt.
Contribution Details
Date: July 5, 2008 12.23 PM EDT

Contact: Jo-Ann
xxx
Lakewood, NJ
Amount: $20.08

July 5, 2008 at 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heidi,

I saw Senator Clinton in person twice. Once far away at a large rally (the press had so ignored her that I thought there wouldn't be that many people attending and barely got inside)..and at a breakfast fundraiser in San Francisco held in a beautiful bank building designed by Julia Morgan. I loved her speech and essence and although I am not a celebrity hound in the least (I wouldn't walk across the street to see Bush or Obama), I was drawn to shake Hillary's hand (and a young woman Secret Service officer told me where to stand to do so as she was leaving. I shook her hand and as she turned said, "Goodbye, Madame President!" Others around me took up the call, and Hillary turned around and gave us a thumbs up! Image if the nomination process had been a level playing field and the media that sold us Bu$h over Gore, over Kerry, and drummed up the Iraq War, had been a real Fourth Estate and given the voters real information.

As for Hillary having to negotiate with lawyers for her role in the convention (I read this, but for the sake of the Democratic Party hope it isn't true). She has to be on the first ballot. I received this email:

"Historically, what has happened at the Democratic Conventions is:
In the last 10 Democratic Conventions (1968-2004) one was uncontested (Bill Clinton's 1996 re-nomination). Of the remaining nine - even though the ultimate nominee in every case had a clear majority of delegates well before the Convention - in SEVEN of the nine, the names of the other contenders were placed in nomination and voted on at the Convention. The only times this didn't happen were in 2000 and 2004 (although in 2004 Rep. Kucinich still received some votes on the roll call).

This year we need to make it known that we want Hillary’s name to be placed in nomination. We believe that if this does not happen it will disenfranchise a great many Hillary supporters that we need in order to take back the White House in November.

Example of an email that I [the person sending the email to me] received:
I just heard on MSNBC (Fineman-Newsweek) that the Clinton camp as been negotiating for Hillary name to be put into nomination at the convention, that Obama doesn't want to waste the time, and that he hears that she will not be nominated. Do you know where this stands? If this is true, it is a deal breaker for me.

It is my understanding that this will be decided between Hillary and Obama’s campaigns. We do not know what is happening behind the scenes but we do know that we are united in our belief that 18 million people voted for Hillary, that hers was an historic campaign, that her delegate votes need to be counted for the record, and therefore her name should be placed in nomination. Hillary delegates want to do what they were elected to do and vote for Hillary on the first roll call vote."

July 5, 2008 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous tvlcrazy said...

Ahh, Heidi! Once again I am in awe of this great woman, and truely miss her presence every day.
I feel fortunate to be able to vicariously take part in your experiences, and I thank you again for all you do.

Nicole

July 5, 2008 at 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heidi, are you writing a book about your experiances during this Spring and now into the convention? Because it would be great and needed.

July 5, 2008 at 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heidi - I am so glad you had what sounded like a great 4th - thank you for once again, sharing a story regarding Hillary.

I, on the other hand, had the worst 4th ever. Historicaly, 4th are great for me, being very patriotic and family oriented.

I miss seeing/hearing Hillary, Bill and Chelsea. During this primary they brought me hope - real hope for a better future for my country, therefore, my children. I dunno if it is the last almost 8 years under the Bu$h regime, but America is losing in so many ways. Early on I realized some of what was afoot as far as a fix in for Mr. Wrong, ever in my wildest did I imagine the underhanded nasty actions by the DNC and RBC. When one compares Hillary to what the DNC is trying to force on us - it is maddening. Take away all my hope.

Thank you once again for your actions in getting Hillary's campaign debt paid and The Denver Group pac.

Boo Radly

July 5, 2008 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous daiseymae said...

Heidi,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences regarding Hillary during this campaign.

I just finished listening to your enlightening interview, along with Marc Rubin, with NQ Bud White.

Thank you for that interview. As the Denver Group gets organized, I have some sense of security knowing that you and Marc are on the front line of fighting for justice and democratic rule at this upcoming convention. Thank you for all you do and for all your contributions - either with your time, your donations, or your loyalty - to Hillary's campaign.

Want to know who surprised me?

You.

I believe I have found the example of a profile in courage which I was looking for after Hillary suspended her campaign.

Thank you.

Most Respectfully,
Becky F. (daiseymae)

July 5, 2008 at 4:03 PM  
Anonymous DWPforHILL said...

Heidi,

Thank you so much for sharing that experience with us. It was moving and inspiring.

July 5, 2008 at 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you ... thank you.. how human and intelligent and wonderful..

BMW60
PUMA

July 5, 2008 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger jbjd said...

This personal anecdote about Senator Clinton's ability to focus on the issues despite extenuating circumstances belongs in letters to SD's who claim they believe Senator Obama is better qualified than she is to be the President of the United States, along with this video of their candidate's performance, when he is 'tired.'
http://youtube.com/watch?v=KbpWonUzlrc
Remind them, they traded that for this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07u6uffKvpA&border=1&color1=0%D72b405b&color2=0%D76b8ab6&hl=en

July 6, 2008 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Pat Newcomb said...

I support previous requests to find a way to get this diary into the hands of Superdelegates. Over and over again, the more people who see Hillary unvarnished and experience her command of the issues and passion to serve, the more electable she becomes. I still hold out hope that our nation can have a meaningful political conversation this fall rather than Obama's engineered media campaign. Inspiring post indeed!

July 7, 2008 at 6:31 PM  

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