For Hillary Clinton, book tour means a warm return to Washington

There were Ready for Hillary signs and Clinton 2016 buttons. There were standing ovations and thick crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of her entering and exiting. And, there were staged photos with a baby.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's return to Washington on Friday night was a warm one.

The former secretary of state, former New York senator, and former (and likely future) presidential candidate was greeted at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium by an excited crowd that sat attentively as Clinton re-told stories from her recently released memoir, "Hard Choices."

The event was the latest stop in Clinton's ongoing book tour, which many see as a calculated attempt to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign in 2016.

Outside the event, a long line of students and other attendees wrapped around the block. Standing near the line were several Republican National Committee supporters, including one intern dressed in an orange squirrel.

RNC spokesman Raffi Williams explained that the campaign, which will follow Clinton to several of her book tour stops, is the GOP's way of pushing back on the "free publicity" that the media coverage of Hard Choices has generated.

"Another Clinton in the White House is NUTS," declared the dark blue bumper stickers the squirrel was handing out to passers-by.

The hour-long question-and-answer segment was moderated by former Clinton speechwriter Lissa Muscatine, who opened the event by asking Clinton about the process of writing "Hard Choices."

Clinton described it as "a great experience despite how difficult it was," and said that she wrote much of the book -- the original manuscript of which she said was much longer -- in the attic of her New York home. Often, Clinton said, she would make excuse after excuse to avoid getting started.

"And then I read that you really should not sit for more than an hour, Clinton said, prompting one of many rounds of laughter from the crowd. "That became my favorite excuse."

Clinton made little news during the event, instead focusing most of the conversation on the anecdotes included in the book, which hit bookstores last Tuesday.

"And the reviews have been really good," Muscatine noted.

"Much to my amazement!" Clinton responded.

The event also included several audience questions, the first of which was if Clinton had personally signed all of the autographed books being sold at the event.

"I really did!" Clinton responded. "They were all personally signed by me."

A few minutes later, when asked the final question of the evening -- what she would like her legacy to be -- Clinton sent the crowd into a cheering frenzy when she said she wants to continue building her legacy through her work at the Clinton Foundation "and other things." The veiled acknowledgment of the possibility of a presidential run, one of the very few references to the subject, led to an eruption of applause.

Clinton seemed comfortable and at ease on stage, at times tossing out self-deprecating jokes and at other times waving her hands enthusiastically as she recounted anecdotes from her book. Once the event had concluded, many in the audience rushed up the to the stage reaching up to touch and take pictures of Clinton -- who took a selfie with one young man and reached down into the audience to snatch up a baby, which she then posed for pictures with.

"Oh my gosh, Hillary Clinton just touched my hand," exclaimed one younger woman, speaking into her cell phone as she made her ways to the exit.

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
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