Some women had been waiting outside Huntington’s Book Revue from 11 p.m. the night before, others had been there since daybreak as the line wound around the block. Their goal was the same: get a signed copy of Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices, and lug the 635-page memoir home with them. In all, the store sold out its supply of 1,200 books—and the staff lamented that they could’ve moved more product if they’d had the inventory.
Across the street was a much smaller group of boisterous people who would never dream of reading anything written by New York’s former senator, ex-first lady and Secretary of State as they made clear by their shouts denouncing her. They stood on the corner of New York Avenue behind a police barricade, waving the yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag that has become an emblem of the Tea Party, holding placards promoting Fox News and denouncing Clinton for “lying.” One young man proudly displayed a black T-shirt with white lettering that read, “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” A middle-aged guy wearing a tan cowboy hat yelled at Clinton’s booklovers that “You don’t even know who Benghazi is!” Not so, shouted a man in line outside the book store, “Yeah, he’s Will Benghazi’s brother!” That riposte drew a big laugh from his side of the street.
The mood inside the Book Revue was ebullient as the line of people weaved between the stacks and up the stairs to a balcony and down. Each patron had been frisked by the Secret Service, and the store was closed to customers after 2 p.m. The bathroom was off limits after 5 o’clock. There were a few people in wheelchairs, an elderly woman in a walker who’d come from Hempstead, and an infant dressed in a red, white and blue jumper.
Clinton sat down exactly at 6 o’clock, as promised, sparking applause and cheers, greeting the crowd with a big smile, “It’s good to see you! Thank you for coming!” Beaming beside her were Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, Town Councilwoman Susan Berland, and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli—all Democrats and all big fans. They posed for the first pictures and took off. The store staff and volunteers, plus a handful of interns, kept people moving like a human conveyor belt. There was constant laughter and chatter.
Many people were wearing red and blue stickers on their shirts that read “I’m ready for Hillary!” and some even had T-shirts proclaiming “Hillary in 2016!” She hasn’t come close to declaring whether she’s going to run for president, but these people on line had already made up their minds. She could count on them.
“I wanted the chance to possibly look in the face of the future female leader of the free world,” said a young woman from Huntington, who said she was a registered Democrat but declined to give her name. She’d been waiting since 9:30 a.m. “with about 30 people” ahead of her. And more than a thousand people eventually lined up behind her.
The last time Clinton had been at the Book Revue for a signing, J.K. Rowling had just released another Harry Potter book so the store was packed. “We had Hillary people and Harry Potter people,” said Loren Aliperti, the Book Revue’s event coordinator, with a smile. “That was the biggest business day we’ve ever had!”
For 23-year-old Danielle Steinmetz of Wantagh, meeting Clinton was one more thing to cross off from her bucket list.
“I am a huge Hillary fan! I just love her,” said Steinmetz. “She’s such an inspiration and a role model! It’s great to finally meet her—it’s a dream come true!”