Sunday evening, while watching our local news channel, I learned that Secretary Hillary Clinton would be visiting a restaurant the next morning that was only about 20 minutes from my home. I turned to Honey and suggested he stop by on his way to work, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go myself.
I saw Mrs. Clinton in my area in 2008 when she was competing with Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. We stood in line forever before going through intense security, then stood for an even longer period as we listened to introductory speeches from local politicians before finally getting to see Hillary give her stump speech. After she finished and made her way along the front of the crowd, I got close to her, but not close enough to shake her hand or do much more than call her name along with the throng of people around me.
Monday morning’s experience proved to be much more personal.
Honey and I arrived at the restaurant about an hour before she was scheduled to appear, and the parking lot was already filled to capacity, with cars beginning to park in the lots of neighboring businesses. We entered the restaurant to find it was already standing room only, and decided to hang out near the main entrance so we would be guaranteed close proximity to her when she arrived.
Secret Service agents soon appeared and announced that this last-minute stop hadn’t provided them with the time to make proper security preparations, so they would be checking people with metal detectors in order to keep Mrs. Clinton safe. After putting officers in front of the exits to block anyone else from entering, they began wanding the inside occupants.
Several minutes later, we were instructed to move away from the door and stand in the aisles between the restaurant tables. We grumbled aloud, thinking we were going to miss our chance at getting a handshake. Around 45 minutes after her scheduled appearance, Mrs. Clinton walked into the building.
After greeting the restaurant owner and posing for a photo with him, she greeted the crowd and gave a very short speech. She then said she would be greeting everyone. We were ecstatic!
She worked her way through the crowd, laughing and posing for photos, all the while surrounded by national press and security. She was extremely personable, and also much shorter than one would think. She was wearing a pink pantsuit with a scarf tucked into the neckline, and I would describe her as downright grandmotherly. In a cute way, of course.
When she finally got close enough for us to talk to her, Honey introduced himself and then me as his partner of 11 years. She was delighted. He asked if she would pose for a photo with both of us, and as we positioned ourselves, she said she loved the Hillary signature pin I had attached to my jacket. I handed my camera to Alison Grimes (!) who had accompanied Mrs. Clinton on her visit, and we posed for a couple of photos.
Hillary was beginning to move to the next guests when Honey stuck his phone into the air to get a selfie with her in the background, and she unexpectedly leaned in for a few more photos. After he told her he was honored to meet her, and I told her to stay strong, we moved out of the way to make room for other people.
It was only when we got into the car to drive away that it sort of sunk in how incredible the whole thing was. I know a lot of people despise Hillary Clinton, but regardless of what you think of her political views or personal history, this is a woman who was the wife of a very popular governor, First Lady of the United States for two terms, senator from New York for 8 years, and Secretary of State under President Obama. She is one of the most recognizable and powerful women in the world, and I feel very fortunate to have had the pleasure of meeting the person I hope will become the next President of the United States.