By Quinn Russell Brown Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Hillary Clinton stopped by the University District on Wednesday evening to sign copies of her new book, “Hard Choices.”
Political pundits and the public alike anticipate the former first lady to run for president in 2016, but she gave no sign of any intention during this visit, which did not include a planned or spontaneous speech.
That didn’t prevent the mood at University Book Store from resembling a campaign stop. People held yard signs with Clinton’s name and wore stickers that said, “I’m ready for Hillary.”
Clinton arrived about 4:45 p.m., 15 minutes earlier than expected, greeted the crowd and immediately began to sign. The ground floor of the bookstore remained open to the public, but only those with wristbands could go up to the second floor to see Clinton.
Wristbands sold for $38.33 — the price of “Hard Choices” after tax — and guaranteed a copy of the book and a brief one-on-one moment with Clinton — time for a handshake and a sentence-long comment.
While the bookstore suggested that those wanting wristbands line up outside beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, five people arrived on Tuesday afternoon and camped out overnight.
One of them, 67-year-old Robert Taylor, drove up from Portland.
“I’m retired, I got money for gas,” Taylor said. “I was at Hillary Clinton’s first book-signing in Portland, Oregon, in 2004. I plan on working on her campaign.”
He didn’t sleep at all Tuesday night.
“It’s hard to when you got students who are partying,” he said, referring to the university students who live nearby. “I been up since yesterday morning.”
Taylor was second in line behind Lotus Zheng, who for much of the wait wore a furry panda mask and held a sign that said, you guessed it, “Ready for Hillary.”
“When people saw the panda, they smiled to the panda, and they would see the sign,” Zheng said. “I love pandas, I love Hillary.”
Zheng, who lives in the Broadview neighborhood of Seattle, immigrated to the U.S. seven years ago from Shanghai, China. She made the move, she claims, so she could vote for Clinton.
“I told my friends 15 years ago — they thought I was crazy — I said, ‘Someday I will move to the U.S. to vote for Hillary,’” said Zheng, 42, who is now a citizen. “Now I’m here for her.”
Clinton served as a U.S. senator from New York from 2001 to 2009 and secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term.
“Hard Choices,” released June 10, is a 656-page memoir that focuses on foreign policy and trotting the globe, with chapters about China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Iran and Syria. There are 34 pages dedicated to the 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, considered by many on the right to be a scandal for her.
When it was her turn to meet Clinton, Capitol Hill resident Karen Phillips told her that she should choose Patty Murray as her running mate if she runs for president.
“I want my daughter to see in her generation the first female president,” Phillips said.
Wristbands were sold to latecomers an hour into the signing. They sold out shortly after 6 p.m. In all, 1,200 people got to meet Clinton, a $45,996 total.
The University Book Store has hosted its share of big names.
“We’ve had her husband, Bill Clinton,” said Laura Follis, a store spokeswoman. “We’ve had Jimmy Carter several times. We know the drill.”
They welcomed U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts last month and organized a visit by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at a different venue in March.
After the signing, Clinton reportedly headed to a fundraiser at the Medina home of Steve Singh, the CEO of Concur Technologies in Bellevue, where seats were $10,000 each. The money collected at that fundraiser will go to the Clinton Foundation, a global nonprofit run by Clinton, husband Bill and daughter Chelsea.
Seattle was one of many book-tour stops for Clinton. She was previously in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and is to be in Los Angeles on Thursday.