Hillary Clinton steals the Vineyard spotlight

The former Secretary of State and rumored presidential candidate attracted a large crowd to a book signing event Wednesday at Bunch of Grapes.

Hillary Clinton high-fives a fan during her book signing at Bunch of Grapes bookstore. — Photo by Michael Cummo

It was rainy and grey outside, but the mood was bright inside the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven Wednesday where Hillary Clinton fans were positively beaming. Ms. Clinton was in town to sign copies of her new book, “Hard Choices.”

“We love you,” “Please run, we need you,” “I’m such a fan of yours,” and variations of the same were heard again and again from people who had waited in line, some for four hours, to purchase a book and spend precious seconds with the former first lady and rumored presidential candidate.

Ms. Clinton’s appearance on the Island stole some of the media attention from her former boss, President Obama, who was staying dry in his Chilmark vacation home. About 30 members of the press attended the event. The Obamas, Ms. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were scheduled to attend a birthday party for Ann Jordan, wife of Washington insider Vernon Jordan, Wednesday night.

The line for books snaked from the front of the bookstore, down the alley next to the Capawock Theatre, past the Tisbury Police Department, and down Union Street.

First in line was Louis Ricciardelli of Wayland. His daughter Paula Sumberg of Maryland helped her dad navigate the bookstore’s crowded aisles in his wheelchair. Ms. Sumberg said her dad, a lifelong Republican, is a big admirer of Ms. Clinton and really wanted to meet her. They had waited in line since noon.

“My dad told Hillary that if she runs for President, it will be the first time he ever votes for a Democrat,” Ms. Sumberg said, which her dad confirmed with a grin.

Dressed in a shell pink lace jacket with an ivory shell underneath, Ms. Clinton smiled engagingly and looked into each person’s eyes while she made brief small talk with them.

Dana Jacobs of Vineyard Haven said she had arranged to take the day off from her job weeks ago for the signing. A sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in political communications, Ms. Jacobs said her admiration for Ms. Clinton grew after she read her previous book, “The Secretary.”

“She was so personable,” Ms. Jacobs said. “I’ve read that about her, that she is really lovely in person, and that’s exactly how she was.”

The ticket price for the event was the cost of one book, with pre-orders suggested, and a limit of two signed books per customer. A limited number of tickets were available on Wednesday, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Luckily for Lily Richards, a high school senior who lives in Greenfield, there were still a few tickets left on Tuesday, when she just happened to find out about Ms. Clinton’s book signing while looking something up about her online. Ms. Richards is a big fan. She not only wrote her AP European history class term paper about Ms. Clinton, but she also presented it to the class as if she were Ms. Clinton — and was the country’s 45th president.

Ms. Richards alerted her mother, Kate Strum-Richards, who made a quick trip with her to the Vineyard Wednesday morning, just for the signing. While on the ferry, they shared Lily’s story with Cynthia Woolbright of Webster, N.Y. She wasted no time at the book signing telling Ms. Clinton about Lily’s paper.

“I’d love to see it,” Ms. Clinton told Lily, and gave Lily her card. Lily’s smile said it all.