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Friday, May 26, 2017

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a book tour on Tuesday to promote the release of her new memoir, Hard Choices, beginning at a Barnes & Noble in New York City. Hundreds of supporters flocked to the first stop in downtown Manhattan, bearing their “Hillary” t-shirts, hats, and stickers — and making the event an all-out spectacle.

The crowd began queuing up on Monday evening, and by 10am on Tuesday the line for admission stretched around the block. A Barnes & Noble employee told The National Memo that security began clearing people to enter at 8am, and within two hours nearly 200 were already inside awaiting Clinton’s arrival. Over 100 more supporters waited outside for their chance to meet the potential presidential candidate.

Several organizations that support a potential Clinton candidacy were also in attendance. The most notable was Ready For Hillary, a SuperPAC that bills itself as a “nationwide grassroots movement encouraging the former Secretary of State to run for president in 2016.”

The group arrived with over 30 volunteers on hand to collect signatures and hand out Ready For Hillary stickers, pins, signs, and bumperstickers.

Last week, the PAC unveiled the Hillary Bus. The tour bus, which was built in Iowa by union workers, made its debut at Tuesday’s event.

“In addition to generating excitement among millions of individuals who are already signed up with Ready for Hillary, the Bus is a mobile advertisement allowing our organization to reach new supporters in every corner of America as Hillary backers who see the Bus are prompted to sign up at readyforhillary.com,” the PAC’s website explains.

The Hillary Bus will follow Clinton’s book tour  on a cross-country trip through Chicago, Washington D.C., Austin, and San Francisco. Once the book tour concludes, the bus will continue traveling to “Democratic events, state fairs and community festivals, followed by college campuses and key midterm states in the fall.”

Smaller groups also turned out on Tuesday to voice their support for Clinton.

2016 Elect Hillary, a group that operates separately from RFH but donates some of its proceeds to the PAC, set up shop on the sidewalk selling its own independently designed t-shirts and tote bags. One t-shirt caricature depicts President Obama and former president Bill Clinton standing behind Hillary, giving her the thumbs-up on a presidential run.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit began as a joke in 2008 when Hillary Clinton told late-night host Conan O’Brien to stop making jokes about her wardrobe. A group of women in New York was listening, and formed the organization bearing that name, which remains dedicated to encouraging Mrs. Clinton to run for office. Women affiliated with the group passed out various pins on Tuesday, one of which read: “Clinton. Again.

Of course, not all in attendance were there to voice support. Fox News sent Jesse Watters — host of Watters World, a by-product of Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor — to ask New Yorkers about Benghazi (of course). As The Wire reported, this wasn’t well received by many in attendance; volunteers deemed Watters “an idiot,” and called O’Reilly “a farce.”

The hype surrounding the mere chance that Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016 is palpable — and a big business. Seventeen months before the 2016 general election, and before Clinton has announced her plans, the circus-like publicity surrounding Hard Choices provides a preview of the inevitable media circus to come.

Photo: @TheHillaryBus via Twitter

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