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Hillary Fever Skips a Generation

The youth vote? Maybe in 2016 or 2020. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

With all the Secret Service agents and the metal barriers keeping the VIPs from the masses, Club 44 -- a reference to Clinton's desire to become the 44th president -- might have been just another political rally, except for the groovy raffle prizes ("an insider's campaign briefing . . . for you and 10 of your friends!"). Watching the festivities, Stan Combs of Maryland called himself a big Hillary Clinton fan but professed no interest in the face paint or the moon bounce. "I'm a little old," explained Combs, 67.

The results were, perhaps, to be expected, considering that the event's "Council of Champions" was packed with septuagenarians Albright (age 70), Maya Angelou (79), Dolores Huerta (77) and Geraldine Ferraro (71). A relative youngster on the council, tennis great Billie Jean King, won her last Wimbledon title years before anybody in the 18-to-24 cohort was born.

Besides, efforts to appear happenin' can be dangerous for candidates. A few days after Barack Obama held his own youth event (the unfortunately named "Generation B.O.") at club H20 in Washington, the club was closed by police because one patron shot and killed another.

Clinton's event carried the risk that her campaign would be associated with the other event Rhea has hosted, TV's "The Biggest Loser." Or perhaps it would be linked instead to the work of another performer at the event, R&B singer Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, who recorded the 2005 single "Sorry for the Stupid Things."

Edmonds, who saw the 23-year-old McPhee bomb, shrewdly chose to greet those in the crowd with something more their speed. He opened with James Taylor's 1970 hit "Fire and Rain."

The crowd liked that, almost as much as the stirring rhetoric of Ferraro: "In the lake of U.S. politics, the presidency is no mere pebble. It's a boulder." Huerta, a human rights activist, imparted to the audience the little-known information that "Hillary lived on a farm." And King, ever the athlete, announced: "She believes in physical exercise -- yeah, baby."

The candidate herself entered, to the theme from "The Devil Wears Prada." She, too, skipped the jeans thing. Surveying her thousands of supporters in the parking lot at 11th and H streets NW, she observed: "This is a crowd that really does span the ages."

It was true: a few youngsters in the moon bounce, a few older folks on the stage, and the rest in the big, soft James Taylor middle.

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