Clinton stirs up storm on isle

Obama huddle creates a frenzy

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VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton swept onto Martha’s Vine­yard on Wed­nes­day amid tor­ren­tial down­pours — and a tor­rent of spec­u­la­tion ahead of her first meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama af­ter she crit­i­cized his for­eign pol­icy ear­lier this week.

And if the skies hadn’t ex­actly cleared over the is­land, the Clin­ton and Obama camps in­sisted that the storm clouds that seemed to loom over the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two had dis­si­pated.

At Ms. Clin­ton’s first stop, the Bunch of Grapes Book­store, hun­dreds lined up out­side for hours in the rain to meet the for­mer sec­re­tary of state. They heard a brief ex­pla­na­tion of her in­ter­view com­ments — and a per­sonal con­fir­ma­tion that she would, as her spokes­man had prom­ised, “hug it out” with Mr. Obama at a party later that night. “Ab­so­lutely,” she said, when asked about the much-an­tic­i­pated em­brace. “Yeah. Look­ing for­ward to it. Go­ing to be there to­night.”

Ms. Clin­ton said the de­ci­sion to call Mr. Obama af­ter the in­ter­view to apol­o­gize wasn’t a dif­fi­cult one. “We agree,” she said. “We are com­mit­ted to the val­ues and the in­ter­ests of the se­cu­rity of our coun­try to­gether. We have dis­agree­ments as any part­ners and friends, as we are, might very well have.”

Mr. Obama has ar­tic­u­lated his for­eign pol­icy as such: Don’t do stu­pid stuff. Ms. Clin­ton said in an in­ter­view with The At­lan­tic that it wasn’t enough. “Great na­tions need or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ples, and ‘Don’t do stu­pid stuff’ is not an or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple,” she said.

Asked at the book­store Wed­nes­day whether she dis­agrees with Mr. Obama’s pol­icy on Iraq, Ms. Clin­ton switched gears and said, “I’m ex­cited about sign­ing books.” That would seem to be a pre­req­ui­site for an event like this one: The book­store said it had or­dered 1,000 cop­ies of “Hard Choices,” the num­ber that Ms. Clin­ton’s peo­ple have said she can sign in two hours.

Ms. Clin­ton, wear­ing a dusty-rose-col­ored tex­tured jacket, greeted peo­ple who shuf­fled by the ta­ble where she was sign­ing. As each per­son — many of them in pon­chos and with soak­ing wet hair — filed by, an aide slid a copy of “Hard Choices” to her, the front cover open.

“I’ll be vot­ing for you,” a woman said to the pro­spec­tive 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. “Bless your heart,” she re­plied.

Ms. Clin­ton made small talk about Martha’s Vine­yard, tell­ing one at­tendee that she was “not here long enough,” and try­ing to get a high-five out of 6-year-old Audrey Lamb-Wil­son when the girl wouldn’t take a photo with her. Audrey obliged.

“Thank you for com­ing, stay­ing out in the rain,” Ms. Clin­ton told the crowd, some of whom wore “Ready for Hil­lary” stick­ers.

“The po­ten­tial to meet the [pro­spec­tive] first woman pres­i­dent of the United States,” said Audrey’s mother, Aly­cia Lamb of Se­at­tle. “It’s pretty mon­u­men­tal.”

Quentin Hey­ward of Phil­a­del­phia shuf­fled to­ward the exit af­ter meet­ing Ms. Clin­ton, who he said had “re-en­er­gized” him. “She is the Merkel of the Amer­i­cas,” Hey­ward said, re­fer­ring to Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel. “She’s cut­ting edge, she’s re­spected, she’s trusted.”

There was lit­tle men­tion of the other ma­jor po­lit­i­cal fig­ure on the is­land: Mr. Obama, on a two-week va­ca­tion. Over the days since Ms. Clin­ton’s ini­tial com­ments, spec­u­la­tion in Wash­ing­ton has run ram­pant: How would Mr. Obama re­spond? Would it af­fect their re­la­tion­ship? Are they friends or en­e­mies — or a bit of both? And ex­actly how awk­ward would their first post-in­ter­view meet­ing, and the prom­ised Hug of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, re­ally be?

United States government - Barack Obama - Hillary Clinton - U.S. Department of State - Angela Merkel - Donna Brazile


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