The Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC was the setting for Wednesday’s gathering of some 1,500 women (and a few men 🙂 ) who support Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. I had not originally planned to attend this event but when contacted about it Saturday evening, I decided to go. After all, what better way to spend my birthday than hanging out with women from all over the country who shared a common goal?
I drove from Norfolk to Richmond and met up with three other women who were going to the event. The trip to DC was uneventful (except for getting lost once we got into the city, a situation remedied fairly quickly thanks to Google Maps that I have on my Blackberry). We chatted about Tuesday’s primaries and what that means for the Clinton campaign. I was, of course, disappointed with the results. Upon arriving at the hotel and seeing women streaming in, it was quite easy to forget about Tuesday 😉
At registration, I was presented with a surprise: the person who had invited me to the event had arranged for me to have my picture taken with the Senator, something reserved for contributors at levels much higher than mine. To say that I was thrilled would be an understatement. I was walking on air as I entered the room where we were to have a campaign briefing at 3pm.
The room was almost full when I entered. Looking around, I saw women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Some of the younger women had brought their daughters. I spotted Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, but she was about the only person I knew in the room. Shortly afterwards, the briefing started, by which time the room was crammed – standing room only.
If you ever need someone to rally a crowd, I suggest you hire Terry McAuliffe. As the first speaker at the briefing, the campaign chairman got the group riled up. He got off the podium and stood in front of the crowd and rattled off reason after reason why Senator Clinton should be the nominee. The crowd roared its approval. We also heard from finance director Jonathan Manz and campaign senior advisor Ann Lewis. Having participated in conference calls with these people in the past, not much of what they said was new to me; however, their comments were electrifying to the crowd. After hearing from them, they opened up the floor for questions. I listened for a bit before ducking outside.
Sitting on the bench outside of the hotel, I watched as women continued to stream into the building. I headed back in and the hallway leading to the room where the briefing was still going on was, by now, crammed with folks. People were sitting on the stairs, standing elbow-to-elbow in the hall. I tell you – it was amazing.
After the briefing was over, we headed to the room where the main program was being held. Acting as MC for the event was Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. She was an excellent choice for this, alternating between being cheerleader and poet, something I haven’t seen in a while. It was about this time that I did something to my camera, so none of the pictures I took came out 😦
After a bit, Chelsea Clinton and her grandmother, Dorothy Rodham took the stage. While Rodham didn’t speak, Chelsea more than made up for it. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this young woman. Yes, she was born into a political family, but it was something more than that, something not quite tangible, that made her a terrific speaker. Not only was she smart and savvy, she exhibited what can only be described as a tremendous love for her mother. Speaking about how her mom wants to be a grandmother, she held her little niece and showed that, although she has no plans for a political life, she is going to be successful in whatever she choses.
Shortly thereafter, Senator Clinton entered from the back of the room, making her way through the throng. It took a while for her to get on stage but once she did, the crowd was on their feet. The senator spoke for about 35 minutes (and I recorded the whole thing 🙂 – this photo was cropped from the video footage). Early on, some guy stood up on a table and displayed what looked like a sheet with something on it about Iran. He was quickly removed by the security detail. A few moments later, someone yelled something (inaudible to me) and they, too, were removed. The Senator made light of it, saying something about them having paid to be there. Speaking without notes, Clinton showed no signs of campaign fatigue, something I would have expected given her late night speech in Indiana Tuesday night and her morning trip to WVA. She was sharp, energetic and on point, talking mostly about what she has done as a Senator and what she hopes to accomplish as President. Her speech concluded the program.
Those of us with tickets to have our picture taken got in line to do so. The person who had arranged my photo is someone well known to the campaign so we were afforded a little bit of special treatment. First, we were ushered to a seating area. There, I was able to meet some of the campaign people that I’ve talked to on the various phone calls. Then it was arranged that the folks in our little group – there were 5 of us – would be afforded the opportunity to meet the Senator prior to her entering the room. We were stationed outside the door and shortly thereafter, the Senator came down the hall.
Each of us had a chance to speak briefly with the Senator, although I have to admit that I took more time than the others 🙂 After wishing me a happy birthday, the Senator and I talked a bit something I’ll be working on for the campaign (more on that later).
All in all, a great time. Thanks to Sandy and Richard for sharing your photos. Thanks to Cathy for driving us back and forth from Richmond.
And a big thanks to Susan, who made my birthday such a memorable one.