A little more than 1,000 people stood in line Friday for a chance to have former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sign a copy of her new memoir, Hard Choices, even though critics panned the 635-page book as “lifeless,” “safe and unchallenging,” and “long, exhausting, faintly robotic.”
Still, Clinton has her fans. And they lined up outside of Books & Co. at The Greene, starting a little after 4 p.m. Clinton arrived at 6:55.
Clinton, the leading-yet-not-announced contender for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, soldiered through the book signing — making brief small talk with admiring fans into the evening hours and signing books at about eight per minute.
Steven Gullett of Franklin said he turned out for a “chance to meet the future president.”
“I think she really sees what the issues are for the country. She has a plan to fix it. She’s got a level head on her shoulders. She is very smart and very intelligent,” Gullett said. “I think she is the right person to lead us.”
Following Clinton at every book signing is a cadre of volunteers from “Ready for Hillary,” a super PAC dedicated to laying the groundwork for Clinton running for president in 2016.
Sean England, spokesman for the group, said volunteers are signing up supporters and building grassroots excitement for a Clinton campaign.
Clinton’s event at Books & Co. is thought to be her first public appearance in Ohio since pulling off a 53-45 percent win in the state’s Democratic primary in March 2008 against Barack Obama. The win was a high point in her first run for president.
Ohio remains a crucial swing state for any politician aspiring to win the White House. The last candidate to win a presidential race without taking Ohio was Democrat John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said: “Hillary Clinton and Ohio go hand in glove. I anticipate she’ll run for president and she’ll do very well in Ohio.”
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges used Clinton’s stop to gin up campaign donations. In an email blast on Thursday, Borges said: “Hillary recently claimed that she and Bill didn’t have much personal wealth and that they were just like average Americans. I don’t know about you, but making up to $100 million over the last few years doesn’t seem average.”
Dayton was the second stop of the day and the sixth this week in Clinton’s national book tour. The former First Lady has been dashing across the country since June 9 when she kicked off the three-week tour.
The book, which retails for $35, covers her time as the 67th Secretary of State when she visited 112 countries, logged nearly 1 million miles and dealt with complex issues such as threats from Iran and North Korea, the deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Book critics, though, said the new volume fails to reveal new insights and is more likely to be gifted to people than actually read by them.
Fran Sipple of Indian Lake arrived at the book store at 3:30 a.m. on Monday to get ticket numbers one and two for the book signing. Sipple, who supported Clinton for president in 2008, says she is definitely going to read “Hard Choices.”
“I think she has a grasp of what the country needs now. I think she can fix what’s wrong now. I think she doesn’t quite think only Democrat, Republican. She thinks of what’s right,” Sipple said. “I think she has experience in the government with all the positions she has held. I think she is the right person.”
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