Hillary Clinton was perched on a chair Monday evening at the Harvard Book Store where hundreds of people had gathered to meet her. Others lined the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman many hope will become the next president.
Clad in a bright turquoise suit, she showed no sign that she has spent the last week on the first leg of a grueling cross-country tour to publicize her recent book, “Hard Choices,” which chronicles her years as secretary of state. The frenzied trip already has taken Clinton from bookstores to a Costco warehouse to a public library.
Although Clinton still says that she has not yet decided whether to throw her hat into the ring, commentators are calling the trip a dry run for her burgeoning presidential bid.
The book dances around whether Clinton will run for president and often appears all too coy about a potential bid. Several lines of the book’s final chapter read, “Will I run for president in 2016? The answer is, I haven’t decided yet.”
Despite her equivocations, the Harvard book tour stop seemed to uncannily resemble a campaign rally.
Hundreds of people lingered on the sidewalk for hours forming a line that wrapped around the bookstore along Plympton and down Bow Streets. Outside on Bow Street, a “Ready for Hillary” bus emblazoned with large photographs of Clinton was parked on the street. The bus has followed the former Secretary of State from coast to coast carrying supporters to each stop on the tour.
It was to be expected, given the well oiled Clinton campaign apparatus, that the event was minute orchestrated to the tee.
Attendees had received emails days before the event, demanding that they leave large purses and personal items at home and informing them about the precise time interval when Clinton would be available for book signings. They also passed through security checkpoints that resembled those of Logan Airport.
Yet the same logistical planning that Clinton brought to the Harvard Book Store Monday could eventually prove her Achilles’ heel . On the 2008 campaign trail, Clinton was often criticized for appearing overly staged and brittle—a failing that many believe cost her the election.
Some commentators claim that Clinton has grown more relaxed around crowds of strangers since 2008. On Wednesday, she appeared quite open as she chatted to people who had shelled out around $40 to buy her book.
Her physical stamina on the tour has also come under close scrutiny. Some conservative pundits have contended that Clinton has appeared frail since she got a concussion shortly before stepping down as secretary of state. Clinton representatives have held that the former first lady has fully recovered, but that did not stop The Drudge Report from claiming that Clinton was clutching a walker in a recent photo splashed on the cover of People Magazine.
Making it through weeks of exhausting television appearances and book signings may prove to those people that Clinton has the stamina for a presidential bid.
Onlookers are not only watching to see whether Clinton is ready for another presidential bid, but also whether the country is ready for her.
Book sales can often be a key indicator for the popularity of a political figure. Should sales stay strong and “Hard Choices” remain on bestseller lists for an extended period of time, pundits may speculate that voters are ready for a Clinton bid.
Although speculation over whether she plans to run has whirled since the book hit stores on June 10, the tour has appeared to try to avoid overt campaigning.
The book tour has not taken Clinton to any traditional battleground states and has instead visited Democratic strongholds, including the traditionally liberal enclave of Cambridge just steps from the ivy covered walls of Harvard Yard, which would rarely see a Democratic candidate for president during the general election.