Per the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton, I thought I would share my two “encounters” with Clinton – and no, I am NOT being political, here. This is just two occasions where I go the chance to either listen to her speak or have the chance to randomly meet her – and a near miss. Nothing more.
Clinton Copenhagen
First Lady Hillary Clinton speaking to U.N. Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995)

Before I get to the first time I heard her speak, I should mention the occasion I missed out on meeting Hillary Clinton. It was early March 1995 and I was in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was on my PR trip during my year in Up With People (Cast A ’94). I did not get a typical PR trip (4 weeks in the US or 5-6 weeks in Europe) setting up a city for our cast’s visit including finding host families, setting up community service events, etc. My original trip to Gothenburg, Sweden had been canceled and at the last moment I was sent to Copenhagen to help set-up a special show for the U.N. World Summit for Social Development. I won’t get into all of the details of my two and half or so weeks in Copenhagen, but it was interesting. Long story short, the show was for diplomats in town for the Social Summit along with the public interested. A few days before the summit started everyone found out then First Lady Hillary Clinton was coming to Copenhagen. The Ambassador to Denmark for the United States apparently told those I was working with that despite Clinton’s visit, he still planned to attend our show. We then got word that Clinton would be attending as well. I was floored.

Cirkus 1
Cirkus Building – Copenhagen, Denmark

Things then got busy coordinating with Secret Service (headed interestingly enough by the father of a castmate and good friend of mine) including a full security sweep and walk through The Circus Building (right) the day before the performance. Then the morning of our show, Clinton changed her plans, got on her plane, and headed back to the U.S. I was disappointed, to be sure.

The first experience in actually seeing Clinton was my junior year in college – three years later. Still First Lady Clinton came to Goucher College to be the speaker to start the second semester. Apparently it was to discuss race relations, but I hardly remembered the topic to be honest. She spoke just hours after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke what would have been the internet.
“Less than three hours after Bill woke her up and handed her the Washington Post story, Hillary boarded a train for Baltimore, where she was scheduled to give a speech on race relations at Goucher College. ‘She was upset,’ said an Education Department official who accompanied the First Lady’s party on the trip. ‘But not visibly so. Just chilly and withdrawn. It was not an enjoyable train ride.'”
“Bill and Hillary” by Christopher Anderson
The event was held in the Sports and Recreation Center (since the entire college showed up) and we had more satellite news trucks parked behind the buidling than I had ever seen at the time. The media hoped – even prodded – some student would ask her about the scandal during the Q&A portion of the event – Goucher students were smarter than that, for the most part. The only thing “scandalous” was when the Student Government Association president gave Clinton a kiss on the cheek in the cordial greeting while introducing her. Yes, there was a funny murmur through the crowd per events of the day. I just appreciated that a First Lady would speak at our college. Though, I am sure drivers didn’t appreciate the motorcade hitting the Baltimore Beltway during evening rush hour!
 
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Sen. Hillary Clinton
The other event took place ten or so years ago. My parents were in DC for a conference, so my now wife, then girlfriend, Anne and I joined them along with a family friend, then North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomery, for dinner. We were at now-closed Kinkead’s which was apparently a pretty popular for those on Capital Hill. But when we arrived, I noticed a Secret Service vehicle parked in front. Clearly someone who needed security would be on hand. I then headed up the stairs and opened the door only to notice no one was behind me. I turned and saw another Secret Service vehicle had pulled up and then Sen. Clinton had stepped out and was talking with my parents and Anne. My mother had graduated from Wellesley a few years ahead of Clinton, so obviously it was a bit of a nostalgia conversation. However, my father and Anne were also fully engaged in the conversation.
As I stood there and watched, just holding a door open for essentially no one, a Secret Service agent walked up the stairs towards me. I smiled and asked him if he wanted to hold the door and have me step aside. “No, you are good,” he said with a smile. “I’ll get the next door.”
Kinkead's
Kinkead’s Restaurant – now closed – in Washington, DC. I remember the steps being far longer and higher, oh well.

Clinton then turned and headed up the stairs. When she arrived at the top, she said hello, shook my hand, and chatted with me for a few moments. I made sure to mention I had heard her speak at Goucher, but forgot to mention the Copenhagen story. I also mentioned it was nice to actually meet her (let’s be honest, it is nice to meet politicians in general; they are doing the work for us, even if we disagree with them). She then thanked me for holding the door and tapped me on the shoulder. I proceeded to hold the door for the rest of her entourage and our group which followed her into the restaurant. Heck, we were important now because we then all had the door held for us by a Secret Service agent! HAHA

For dinner, we were then positioned at a table relatively close to Clinton and those she was having dinner with – clearly some major people in the DNC and/or donors. Anne spent much of the night eavesdropping on Clinton’s dinner and sharing what she was overhearing: clearly talk about running for president. We all were certainly interested, but Rep. Pomeroy was the most intrigued, so he enjoyed whatever Anne could gather.
Clinton 2
Hillary Clinton officially nominated Democratic nominee for President.

Now looking back it is cool to think about what certainly was not the first conversation Clinton had about the idea of running for President, but one that lead to what has happened this week – Clinton being nominated as the first female to run for president for a major party.

 
Just sharing a few stories… nothing more. Not everyone gets the chance to run into these types of individuals in unscripted moments. And I got to hold the door with permission from the Secret Service. I can also now tell my son and especially my daughter that their father, and mother, got to meet Hillary Clinton – win or lose.
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