PHOTOPHILE- A time for 'Hill': Clinton, Grisham talk politics at fundraiser
Both once made their homes in Arkansas, both rose to prominence in the early '90s, and both have served as Democrats in elected office, but never before had Senator Hillary Clinton and novelist John Grisham shared the same stage. That is, until Sunday, September 23 at the Paramount Theater, where the best-selling author interviewed the former First Lady at a fundraiser for her presidential campaign.
For approximately 90 minutes, Grisham and audience members (who had paid admission fees ranging from $25 to $2,300) peppered the New York Democrat with many of the most pressing questions of the campaign.
On the Iraq war, which Clinton famously supported, she pledged that, "If the president does not extricate us from Iraq before he leaves office, as president I will– starting on the very first day."
Although the First Lady's last stab at healthcare reform was chairing a group that attempted to write a national health plan during her husband's first term in office, she said she looks forward to taking up the issue again as president– in part because of the 9 million American children still uninsured.
"These are not children who are covered by Medicaid," she explained. "These are children whose parents get up in Nelson County or in upstate New York and go to work."
She even managed to turn Grisham's joking request for an ambassadorship in Paris or Rome into an opportunity to take a jab at President George Bush.
"After I'm elected," she said, "I'm going to ask distinguished Americans of both parties to head out around the world, and go visit leaders, and make public appearances in as many countries as we can reach with a very simple message: the era of cowboy diplomacy is over."
And of course, with Grisham dictating the topics, the conversation eventually turned to baseball, as he pressed Clinton on whether she's a Cubs fan (having grown up just outside Chicago) or roots for the Yankees.
"My family were big Cubs fans," she said, "but when I was eight or nine I realized if I was to remain a Cubs fan, I had to have an American League team that could win."
Recent polls indicate Clinton's the Democratic front-runner. Judging by the standing ovation Sunday night, the 1,000 or so supporters in attendance believe they've attached themselves to a winner.
Before introducing Clinton, Grisham promised not to "spew forth idiotic, vitriolic garbage like Mr. [Bill] O'Reilly."
At the program's outset, Clinton revealed that after some genealogical research, her husband discovered that he and fellow Arkansan Grisham are "like 17th cousins twice removed." Grisham joked, "Sooner or later everyone there's pretty much related."
Clinton lets the audience in on a secret.
Grisham and Clinton share a private word during the 30-minute question-and-answer session.
Supporters clamor for handshakes, autographs, and close-up pictures at the event's conclusion.
Denise Tynan of anti-war group Code Pink argues with a Clinton supporter outside the theater.