WASHINGTON, D.C. — For Bang Warren, a retired entrepreneur and self-described political junkie, money was no object when it came to seeing Hillary Clinton.
"I paid twelve fifty on StubHub for two tickets," she said, standing outside of the Warner Theatre, nearly two hours before Clinton's first stop on a speaking tour promoting her new book. "No, not twelve dollars and fifty cents. Twelve hundred and fifty dollars."
The women beside her in line nodded their heads in approval. The former Democratic candidate for president may be one of the least popular politicians in America — a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 30 percent of respondents had a positive view of her — but in Clinton Country, her base still loves her.
"It's going to be more than worth it," Warren said. "Especially if I can get a selfie with her."
Here in this midsize city known as a bastion of liberal sensibilities that last year gave Clinton 90.1 percent of its vote, her weary fans — from the itinerant flacks and Hill staffers, to the workers with deep roots in the local nonprofit and think-tank communities — don't seem to mind her flaws. These disenfranchised residents, many of them tired of being belittled as swamp creatures by the new power elite running the country, see Clinton as the rare pol who is solidly on their side.
And so it was a festive atmosphere on 13th Street Northwest, amid the "Pussy Power" buttons and the "Nasty Woman" T-shirts, as folks clamored to snap up copies of her new book, "What Happened," while eagerly parsing quotes from her recent NPR interview with Terry Gross. ("She damn well better not rule out contesting the election!")
When Clinton took the stage — resplendent in a bright fuchsia jacket and a smile that seemed natural after weeks of reading, writing, walking in the woods and, as we were to learn, drinking wine — she did so to a lasting standing ovation. She promised her people they hadn't seen the last of her.
"None of us can afford to go quietly away," she said. "We need our voices, we need our energy. . . . We're not going to go anywhere. We're still fighting and still moving."
Clinton played to the crowd, joking about how she had to win a campaign against both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, discussing at length about her love for hot sauce and her disdain for the current administration's casual relationship with facts.
She sat for more than an hour, chatting with her former speechwriter and longtime friend Lissa Muscatine, the co-owner of the Politics and Prose bookstore, which hosted the event. It wasn't a hard-hitting interview ("What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?" "Chocolate."), but that didn't seem to bother this crowd. This was not a time to talk about emails, or Bernie Sanders, or whether she should have spent more time in Wisconsin or used the word "deplorables."
Instead, Clinton spoke about the need for federal workers to stick it out in their jobs, even if they feel like they are working for a government that doesn't care about them.
"I hope that we can maintain a core of experienced public servants in our government because at some point they're going to need you, and the country is going to need you," she said. "And I hope you're still there."
It's the kind of rhetoric that strikes a chord in the nation's capital, a city whose primary industry — jobs associated with government — has been threatened by the current administration.
"Sometimes it feels like my family members who voted for Trump are against me, my country is against me and my administration is against me," a bureaucrat with the Environmental Protection Agency who declined to be identified said after leaving the theater. "It was nice to be around someone who made it known that she cares. I ugly-cried through plenty of it."
"That's crazy!" the young woman said, turning to her friends and quickly whipping around back to the bar. "We'll take four."
(Later, Clinton was asked on stage whether she preferred drinking vodka or chardonnay. "It depends on how much time I have," she replied.)
Yet the evening felt like a better-days celebration. During his introduction of Clinton, Politics and Prose co-owner Bradley Graham noted that former staffers from Clinton's failed presidential campaign were in the audience — her director of communications, Jennifer Palmieri, and her press secretary, Brian Fallon, were among those spotted — and the crowd went wild cheering for them.
Still, it's not only the region's Democrats who are seeing Clinton through rosé-colored glasses. In Washington, even some of the most hardened Republicans find themselves missing their former foe.
Staffers for America Rising, a conservative research organization that worked against her election last year, had designs on attending the book event. Not for work, really. Just for fun.
"The HRC obsession around here won't go away anytime soon," said Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for America Rising Squared, a related organization. "She's still missed, and 'Fight Song' is still the most popular song played at our parties."
Alas, Rising staffers soon found that the event was sold out, and tickets on the secondary market were out of reach, thanks to demand from people such as Clinton superfan Bang Warren.
At the end of the night Clinton left the stage to more thunderous applause. The crowd filed outside to collect copies of their books, and pose for pictures kissing its cover.
"I didn't get a selfie," Warren said as she exited the theater. "But I did get to shake her hand. I got to touch my hero. It was totally worth it."
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Lissa Muscatine had pointed out the Hillary Clinton campaign staffers in the audience. It was Bradley Graham who said that, in his introduction of Clinton.