NEW YORK ― By 6:30 a.m., Perry Gregory and Maddie Ireland were out of their homes and in a line. The two 19-year-olds joined a diverse crowd of women and men, starting at the entrance of Barnes & Noble in Union Square and filing down the block and around the next block. All of these people were spending their mornings waiting for one thing: A chance to meet Hillary Clinton and get a signed copy of her new book, What Happened.
“We’re very hyped to see her,” said Gregory. She and Ireland, who insisted that we need to hear Clinton’s story, had been talking about what might be in this book for a long time.
“We need to look deeper into why [Donald Trump] won and why he represents our country,” said Ireland. “And [Clinton] has experience.”
Much of the early criticism of Clinton’s new memoir ― a reflection on, as the title suggests, what happened during the tumultuous 2016 presidential election, and her own experience as the first female nominee for a major party ― has centered on the question of whether she should stop speaking about the election and just quietly fade into the background. As a Politico piece about the reaction to Clinton’s book tour put it: “Political reporters gripe privately (and on Twitter) about yet another return to the campaign that will never end. Campaign operatives don’t want the distraction, just as they head into another election season.”
But the men and women who waited for hours to get a copy of What Happened don’t want the woman they hoped would be our current president to shut up. They want to hear her story ― and learn from it.
Some of the people in line had long been ardent Clinton fans from a distance, like 16-year-old J.C. DeMaria, who came into Manhattan from New Jersey and had been in line with his father since 6:30 a.m. He’s “idolized” Clinton since she ran for president in 2008, when DeMaria was just 7 years old. The thing he loves most about her? “She’s unafraid to hold opinions.”
Others in the line came at their admiration for the former secretary of state from a more personal place, like Jean Moore, 70, who was in Clinton’s class at Wellesley College. She was in town from Tennessee to see her grandson and rushed over to Barnes & Noble…