Late yesterday afternoon I received an email from the Clinton campaign about attending an event here with Hillary Clinton in the San Fernando Valley (Northridge). Having missed the last event here in SoCal, I welcomed the opportunity to attend, because as I have said here many times, I am particularly interested in the issue of the economy as a small business owner and only parent.
I arrived at the event about 30 minutes before the scheduled start time and was surprised to see a long winding line of people that seemed to be endless, as I walked the considerable distance from the parking to the small auditorium where the event was to be held. I had called the local campaign office about getting a press pass a couple of hours earlier and was told people were already lining up as seats were limited. They weren’t kidding.
The hall was full when I went in, and there was press already on the media riser. I spent time talking to some local media and knew we’d all be settling in for a wait, because the candidates are never on time. At some point Congressman Brad Sherman announced that Clinton was indeed running behind schedule and that she would first be talking to the 2000 or more supporters who were outside because the small auditorium was filled to capacity.
At some point the traveling press came straggling in, and seasoned campaign blogger that I am, I knew that Clinton would be along soon. But still we waited inside, as Clinton grabbed a microphone outside and spoke to the crowd:
I went to the Clinton event, with a different feeling than I had 4 years ago when I was involved with the Kerry campaign. Today I was an observer, rather than a blogger for a campaign.
Admittedly I have been very interested in what Clinton has been saying on the campaign trail, because I have felt, as I have said here in the past that she resonates with me, as woman.
Since the New Hampshire Primary, I have talked to many women who have told me they are supporting Clinton. Women from all walks of life. Women around the country. The theme among the women I have spoken with is that they believe she is the most qualified, they believe she has the most experience and they feel at this point in time our country needs that experience.
So I listened to Hillary Clinton today with an open mind and an open heart. She started her speech by recalling the ’92 Northridge earthquake that devastated the Valley. She reflected back on how the Clinton administration handled that disaster compared to Hurricane Katrina and there was a shift in her voice, she softened and was that woman who learned to listen in New Hampshire.
Clinton spoke clearly and never seemed to skip a beat. She knew her stump speech inside and out and she knew the policy she was talking about. The economy here in Southern California has been rocky at best for some time. She was, I thought ahead of the curve weeks ago when she got that is was only going to worsen and she began to call for action. That was the first real hook on the issues for me, outside of her health plan, which I feel is the best of the 3 front-runners.
And I watched. I watched her radiating on the stage. Truly confident with herself and the issues she was discussing. She told the crowd in the room, and those listening outside via the loudspeakers that she is running because she knows “America can do better,” and she wants us “to enter into the future with Confidence and Hope.”
The economy, Clinton told the audience, “has to be the number one issue, because it is where we live.” We live in our homes, we live in our pocketbooks, we live in our day to day existence struggling to put food on the table. She spoke few words but said a mouthful that was loud and clear. Yes, it’s still the economy.
“This election,” Clinton said is “about the people. Your hopes, your dreams.” Which translates into, I get you all have needs and I care. It’s another version of Clinton’s “I am listening” mantra, which resonates with women and people who are struggling to be heard.
And then it hit me. I knew that she could lead this nation in a better direction. I knew that she had the experience, the knowledge, the innate sense and the vision to start fixing the wrong that have been wrought on the American people by the Bush administration. Yes, she can, I told myself. Yes she can.
I believe Hillary Clinton is the right choice for President. I had been leaning in that direction for some time now, but it hit me standing there in the crowd today, that my mind was clear. When the event was over I struggled through the crowd to try to meet her. Thankfully I learned the tricks to working my way through 4 years ago, but unlike my time following John Kerry on the trail and knowing his staff that traveled with him, I was heading up there on a wing and a prayer that I would be able to get her attention and speak with her. Someone was listening.
I reached out to her and she responded. And in those first moments talking to her I blurted out that I had been a blogger for Kerry in ’04 and had been undecided, but I was clear today — You have my support Senator Clinton. I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I had the opportunity to tell Hillary Clinton my story, as others have on the campaign trail. She listened as I told her I was an only parent who raised my daughter alone for nearly 18 years, ran a business and a blog, my daughter was now in college. She cared when I told her that economy had hurt my business and I had no healthcare. I told her that I believed in her, and that like so many women I looked at her as role model that women can break the barriers.
After 7 years of Bush, America needs to know we have a leader that listens and cares and a leader who has the experience to do what needs to be done. I believe that leader is Hillary Clinton. I believe she can lead us. Yes, she can!
UPDATE: Cross posted on The Huffington Post!