MADISON — Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state who is said to be considering a run for president, drew hundreds of people who waited hours to meet her at a book signing Saturday.
“I shook your husband’s hand when he ran,” one woman told Clinton at the R.J. Julia Booksellers. “We will vote for you. Me, my husband, and my mother will vote for you.”
Clinton, without committing to a run for president in 2016, politely said, “Thank you.”
Clinton’s main focus was on her book “Hard Choices,” and she spent two hours greeting people and signing copies.
“It’s got a lot of inside accounts, and a lot of it is becoming newly relevant,” Clinton said, adding that she had been intimately involved with a number of now-evolving foreign policy matters, including the clashes between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“I negotiated a cease fire in Gaza, and now it’s broken,” she said.
Those who bought a ticket in advance received a copy of “Hard Choices” and waited in line for up to six hours before Clinton started signing. But many said they did not mind the wait.
“We need a woman in the White House to get this country moving again,” said one Clinton fan, Susan Uguccioni of Glastonbury, who added that she had been waiting for four hours. “We’re more than ready [to meet Clinton].”
Once inside, fans had just a few seconds to speak to Clinton, who navigated the deluge of supporters with a constant repetition of “It’s a pleasure for me to be here with you,” and “Thank you so much for coming out.”
The signing was a hot event not only for hundreds of Clinton supporters, but also for Connecticut’s two senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal. Fresh from a visit to the U.S. border in the Southwest, Blumenthal arrived before the signing to speak with Clinton. The two attended Yale Law School together.
“It was really nice to talk with her,” Blumenthal said afterwards. “We had a great conversation.”
Murphy also attended, posing for pictures with Blumenthal and Clinton after spending the morning campaigning for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is up for re-election in November.
Murphy apologized for his casual dress. “I was door knocking for the governor, so forgive my shoes,” he said, gesturing to a pair of sneakers.
Malloy did not attend, but Clinton asked Blumenthal and Murphy to “say ‘hello’ to the governor for me.”
The event also attracted a group of about 30 protesters, who chided Clinton for the attacks on the American installation in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.
The protesters held up signs and chanted, “Hillary Lied, 4 Died!” and “We Won’t Forget Benghazi!”
But though the large security presence and the voices of the protesters limited access to some storefronts and interrupted the occasional conversation, local businesspeople said they appreciated the exposure to potential customers.
Catherine Finlay, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker, said book signings at R.J. Julia’s — Mariano Rivera, the former star pitcher for the New York Yankees, appeared at the shop in May — put the small community on the map.
“It’s always great for the Realtors. People sometimes find a place by accident and then maybe want to move here,” Finlay said.
Chip Walz, who works at Morgan Stanley in Madison, set up a free lemonade stand that also offered passersby the chance to sign up for a free financial review.
“I’m not sure how the cost for the security and the police is paid,” he said, “but, hey, this is good for the town.”