Inside the sauna-like Amherst Elementary School, Hillary Clinton was taking extra heat for refusing to answer a question about the Keystone XL pipeline.
Outside, two supporters roasted patiently in the sun, waiting for the Democratic presidential candidate to depart so they could have a Hillary moment.
Nancy Richards-Stower said she cohosted a New Hampshire event in 1991 for Bill Clinton when he was running for president. She met Hillary that day and advised her that in New Hampshire, “we do not do spouses well.” Obviously, said Richards-Stower, “I knew nothing about the power of Hillary Clinton.”
Twenty-four years later, Richards-Stower and her sign-holding companion, Gaetan DiGangi, a Clinton super delegate in 2008, still believe in that power — no matter what the press, polls, or rivals have to say about Clinton’s prospects for election.
The Bernie Sanders surge? “I love it,” said Richards-Stower. “I love the excitement. I love the activism. I expect all of them to come home.”
The controversial e-mail accounts Clinton kept as secretary of state? “Colin Powell did the same thing,” said DiGangi. So it’s much ado about nothing? “It’s much ado about something,” replied Richards-Stower. “It’s a typical anti-Clinton rumor-machine attack.”
Even so, Richards-Stower does not think the press has been all that tough. “It’s nothing she can’t handle.” she said.
Inside, Clinton was handling fallout from that morning’s dodge on the pipeline that would bring Canadian oil to Texas. During the town hall meeting, she was asked to give a “yes or no” answer on whether she would support it.
She did not give one.
Noting that as secretary of state she started the official inquiry into the pipeline, Clinton said, “This is President Obama’s decision and I am not going to second-guess him. If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”
Clinton just issued a detailed energy plan. Yet she’s refusing to answer this specific energy-related question. The reason is obvious — she does not want to upset pipeline supporters or environmentalists who oppose it.
During a Q&A after the town hall session, the press focused on her nonanswer.
“If this is the number one issue on people’s minds, then they are going to have to wait and see what Secretary Kerry and President Obama decide to do about it,” she said, according to a transcript supplied by the campaign.
Clinton is gambling that it’s not “the number one issue on people’s minds” and that it will be settled before Obama leaves office. It’s a typical Clinton calculation.
Afterwards, when she finally stepped outside and spotted Richards-Stower and DiGangi whistling and waving at her, she didn’t just wave back. She called them over and air-kissed DiGangi. “It’s too hot,” she said.
Asked again why she will not definitively answer the Keystone question, she replied, “You know what? I can’t. I was part of the process. It’s something I cannot do.”
She could do it, but her response was just fine with Richards-Stower. “It is respectful and intelligent,” she said afterwards, via e-mail. “It would be much easier for her to scream out “No pipeline” and unbalance the president’s decision-making process and galvanize the Dems who hate the pipeline. Also, my bet is she has privately weighed in with the administration.”
Spoken like a true believer. As Clinton takes the heat, she needs a lot more of them.