Hillary Clinton supporters line up for tickets to upcoming book-signing

Madison — R.J. Julia Booksellers took orders for hundreds of copies of Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices” Wednesday morning, setting the stage for the potential Democratic presidential candidate’s upcoming book-signing at the store, a shoreline institution.

Clinton’s July 19 appearance is billed as a strictly non-speaking engagement.

“I hope she runs for president,” said Vitty O’Toole, a Madison woman waiting in line for the store’s 10 a.m. opening. “She has the power and the experience.”

Bookstore staff began taking phone orders at 8 a.m. By 10, scores of people, most of them women, had queued up on the sidewalk outside, hoping to reserve copies of the former first lady’s chronicle of her years as U.S. secretary of state.

A reservation for the book-signing, which will include a copy of Clinton’s book at the time of the signing, went for $35, plus tax.

Late in the day, Lori Fazio, R.J. Julia’s general manager, said the store’s six phones had not stopped ringing.

“I expect we’ll sell out by the time we close tonight (at 8),” she said. “If not, we’ll sell them tomorrow.”

Fazio said she could not say how many copies of Clinton’s book had been sold or what the store’s capacity would be for the book-signing, citing heightened security surrounding the event. A Secret Service detail will be assigned to protect Clinton.

While some consideration had been given to having the book-signing at a larger venue, Clinton’s schedule dictated otherwise, Fazio said.

“The option would have been to have it off-site and have her speak, but it depended on her schedule,” she said. “What worked best was a straight signing in the store.”

An East Lyme woman who declined to give her name said she learned of Clinton’s upcoming appearance early Wednesday morning, decided not to bother trying to reach the store by phone and drove directly to R.J. Julia’s downtown Madison location.

“I’m a supporter of Hillary — and a collector of signed books,” she said.

Rob Hammel of Killingworth, one of the few men in line, arrived outside the store at 9:30, when there was only a smattering of people. He said he faced a far greater wait when Mariano Rivera, the retired Yankees relief pitcher, signed copies of “The Closer: My Story” at R.J. Julia in May.

Nor would the line for Clinton’s appearance rival the one occasioned years ago by Don Imus. The radio “shock jock” drew thousands to the store, where he signed books for half the day.

Hammel said he was “a fan” of Hillary and expects her to run for president.

O’Toole, the Madison woman, who noted she shares Clinton’s alma mater (Wellesley), said the former first lady is just what’s needed in the nation’s capital.

“I lived in Washington for years when my husband was a reporter for The (Washington) Post, so I know what a mess it is down there,” said O’Toole, who described herself as an “independent Democrat.”

“This was always a pretty solid Republican town,” she said, “so I generally kept my mouth shut when the talk turned to politics.”

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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