Well, it's now 5:10 pm in the air somewhere between Portland and Los Angeles. What a whirlwind, and I mean whirlwind morning with Hillary, compounded by not only the encounter itself, but having to 'turn it around' as they say in industry-speak for today's show.
Got my 4 hours sleep, and I'm feeling it right about now, but I was running on pure adrenaline when I awoke this morning. I was going to interview the former First Lady, now Senator Hillary Clinton, and, I've got to tell you, I was a little nervous about it. I can pretty much talk to anyone, but to be sitting in front of a woman who has worked so hard to secure the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, and probably won't get it, was having an effect on me.
I was wondering if she would show any signs of depletion, of sadness, really...
To be the only national TV crew and reporter granted a sit-down interview with her for a good period of time, 15 minutes, is a pretty big deal, and when I arrive at the Children's hospital, I am greeted by a security detail that is fitting for a presidential candidate. Bomb-sniffing dogs, secret service everywhere, metal detectors, organized chaos. I get to the room where the two-camera crew has set up, and the Hillary folks are all over us, in a good way, keeping us updated on Hillary's whereabouts, filling us in on where we can be when she arrives, where we can walk and talk with her.
It's already been 'cleared' what talking points we can cover. Not much was off-limits. We could ask about those wanting her to graciously bow out of the race for the party's sake. We could ask about whether she will consider the vice-presidency. The only favor her camp asked was that we not bring up the 'race card' issue that Hillary's been criticized about in the last day or so. Let me clarify: Hillary has basically said, and was quoted in the print media, that she feels her broadbase coalition was better at this point than Senator Obama's. And she went on to say that "working Americans, hardworking Americans, white Americans who didn't necessarily finish college are more likely to vote for her." The headlines this morning screamed: 'Hillary playing the race card' and so on... So, naturally, the campaign doesn't want any more fuel added to the veritable fire.
Hillary arrives. She greets me warmly, and she is accompanied by a young woman named Jordan, who, when she was 8 years old, was so sick, she nearly died, and as her last wish, wanted to meet Hillary. This is the first time they've seen each other since then, and Jordan is now in her early 20's. They have their reunion privately, and shortly thereafter are greeting me on camera. The hospital floor is filled with workers, but mostly sick children and their parents who are anxious to get a glimpse of Hillary. She doesn't disappoint.
Hillary has something to say to every single child, parent and hospital worker. Doesn't just shake their hands, but gives them all a moment. A warm moment. A sincere moment. I couldn't quite believe what I was witnessing. If it was politically motivated, she sure knows how to disguise it, because it felt 'real' to me.
It was time for our sit-down interview, and we walk down the hallway, cameras rolling, but it takes longer than anticipated to get to our room, because Hillary stops along the way, conversing warmly, taking pictures with the children, having a word with their parents.
Hillary was charming, funny, smart and extremely engaging. We talked about everything from her own party pressuring her to bow out of the race, to whether or not she'd be happy as vice president, to whether Obama will even ask her, at this point, to be his VP. I am in the middle of interviewing her and SHE brings up the broadbase coalition issue, and I quickly jump through the open door, saying, "and you've been criticized for that??" (remember: this is the ONE topic we were asked not to discuss). We go on to have a full-on conversation about it, and I press her about the future of her campaign and what it will mean. Add to that, some pop culture topics, Star vs. Barbara, Simon Cowell still insisting that Hill needs to cry more in order to gain more support, to Jimmy Kimmel wanting to be her VP, if she ever defies the math with the delegates and secures the Democratic nomination for President.
I thoroughly enjoyed her. And no matter what happens, this experience ranks right up there, maybe even a bit higher, than meeting her husband.