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Hillary Clinton visits Buffalo, signs copies of new book

An estimated 1,000 people lined up as early as 8:30 a.m. Thursday to have a brief opportunity to meet the former presidential candidate, Secretary of State and First Lady. Hillary Clinton arrived in Buffalo during the noon hour to sign copies of her book, What Happened, for supporters, many of whom are still stunned by last November's loss.

The first people in line traveled to Buffalo from Ohio. They are known as the Cincinnati Coffee Ladies, who actively worked on two of Mrs. Clinton's campaigns and didn't let distance stop them from getting to see their preferred candidate one more time.

One of the Coffee Ladies, Florence McGraw, sat in her rolling walker in anticipation of meeting Hillary Clinton up close. She was asked why she was compelled to travel all the way to Buffalo for that opportunity.

"It means that we never left her," McGraw said. "We're going to continue to fight It's going to be a little different direction now but Hillary will still be out there to coach us along."

Among McGraw's peers is Ena Wilson, a native of England who is also a strong Clinton supporter who worked on two of her campaigns.

"She stood for the things that I believe in, moving towards the center, going away from extremism," Wilson said. "She had good proposals, I thought."

Some waiting in line had already read some of Hillary Clinton's thoughts about why her campaign fell short. David Comstock said the lesson he learned from last year is never take anything for granted. It is, he thinks, an attitude that cost Clinton dearly.

"I think a lot of things were taken for granted," Comstock said. "She expected to be president and it just didn't happen."

Others in line say the election turned when supporters of her primary opponent didn't rally behind her upon her nomination.

"People my age - I'm 27, so 27 or younger - I thought that the people who were voting for Bernie, they didn't really unite with everybody," Murphy said. "I know so many people that didn't vote, or voted third party, because they were angry that he didn't get the nomination."

News media were not allowed an opportunity to interview Mrs. Clinton.

There were two protesters outside the event. One stood across Seneca Street wearing mismatched camouflage fatigues, holding a sign and shouting slogans about Benghazi. Hillary opponents continue to blame her for the deaths of four Americans in a terrorist attack on a U.S. facility in the Libyan city.

The other protestor, Jeffrey Damian Cappella, stood quietly just outside the entrance to the book signing. He held a large sign suggesting Hillary Clinton stop blaming others for her loss.

"Hillary, in an interview, states that she thinks, in her own assessment, the reason why white women didn't vote for her was because they had sexist husbands who put pressure on them at home," Cappella said. "What level of hubris would one need to have, to sit there and presume to know why women voted or did not vote for her?"

The sign also suggests America has no problem with having a woman in the White House, but has a problem with her in the White House. 

Several elected officials, including New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and New York State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes also had an opportunity to briefly meet with Clinton. Also among a group of dignitaries who got a special VIP moment with her was Jeremy Zellner, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

He opened his copy of Clinton's book to the inside front cover, which showed a photo of the nominee addressing the crowd at last year's Democratic National Convention. Zellner pointed to the lower left corner of that picture and showed that, if one looks carefully, the Erie County delegation to that convention could be seen.

So, how does it feel to be a part of this book, even if in just a small place inside the front cover?

"It feels great," Zellner replied. "But I wish the result was a lot different."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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