Live Blogging Hillary Clinton’s Appearance in the Lion’s Den

The title’s a bit of an exaggeration– to my surprise, the room seems packed with folks ready to cheer, not jeer, Hillary. An unscientific scan of the audience tells me that its a a grayer, and more female, room that conference-goers overall. It’s not all Hillaryites: several folks seated around me turned down offers of campaign signs.

None of the reporters in the back of the room seem interested enough in the crowd to actually talk to any of us. [Update, within a minute of posting this, a cameraman from the local CBS affiliate, and then someone from ABC News, came up to shoot me. So, I guess blogs do make a difference. Another update: the ABC cameraman told me “Don’t worry, I won’t shoot what you’re typing.” I told her, “Don’t worry, that’s the point.”]

Apparently, there’s buzz about just how long Hillary will stick around this afternoon. It wasn’t until 7:30 AM this morning that the campaign confirmed their appearance, in a blog post by internet director Peter Daou. (He may be more popular in the conference at large than she is.)

Update III:

She enters about 12:10

Her communications head, Howard Wolfson, seems uncomfortable.

Hillary wishes there’d been a left blogosphere 15 years ago, and that “it” makes policy makers a little sharper. Its nice to have some accountability and new ideas coming in sometimes. “I read blogs– but don’t tell anyone that.” “What if we’d had a blogosphere in 93 and 94″ during the health care debates.

The first question she fielded is on NCLB, and she’s running with it. She praises the new DC school superintendent, says that individual student, not the individual school, should be the unit of focus and emphasizes the need for broad curricula and field trips– with a shout-out to the Field Museum.

HRC’s Vogue-featured aide Huma Abedin is dutifully on her right, tearing through blackberry messages.

Second question was on Gitmo, the third on the FISA bill that passed yesterday.

As I look around the crowd, I realize that perhaps the reason those two TV cameras focussed on me: very few people have laptops out, indeed I only see one as I scan around.

The fourth question, from a Bay Area blogger, finally turns up the heat, starting with praise for her stance on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then asking her opinions on other Clinton-era bills: the Telecom Act of 96, welfare reform [that would have been my question], the Defense of Marriage Act, and NAFTA. Cheers all around. She criticizes DADT, saying that she has done so publicly since 1999. She defends DOMA. Re Telecomm Act: “You’ll have to ask Al Gore…he’s an expert, I’m not.” Re: NAFTA, essentially, mend, don’t end. Need to evaluate the impact of trade agreements; unintended and intended consequences, and support job development in the global south. The positive consequences of welfare reform outweigh negative; in this Administration, the work we did with education and health care have been severely cut back; I’d like to reverse that.

The last question is about mass transit and infrastructure. She throws the geeks some meat, with a call for universal broadband; claims that in 2000 we led the world in access, and are now 25th. Mass transit must become a priority– though not every part of our country needs it.



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