- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2003

The guy wearing the devil costume out on Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday was adamant.

“Enter the bookstore and take two steps down — morally and socially,” he hollered into a bullhorn.

The mannerly crowd outside Trover Shop Books on Capitol Hill gazed back at him, clutching precious orange vouchers that proved they had already paid for “Living History,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new memoir.

The New York Democrat was inside signing — and signing and signing — some 1,500 copies of her book, oblivious to the small group of protesters outside waving signs that read “It takes a village to ghostwrite” and “Where’s the White House silver?” among other things.

“This is a political tour. She’s laying the groundwork. She’s keeping the door open for 2004,” said organizer Kristinn Taylor.

An older woman swore with gusto after being denied entrance to the shop, momentarily diverting the dozen camera crews and full complement of police and Secret Service personnel milling around on the sidewalk.

“I just want to buy a paper,” she yelled.

Inside, it was brisk protocol and flawless assembly line.

Mrs. Clinton, dressed in a navy blue pantsuit with a white-and-gold scarf, was seated at a table in the very back, her legs and feet hidden by a strategically placed publicity poster. She spent exactly 3 seconds with each admirer as a coterie of 10 attendants whisked books to her waiting pen.

“Hello … thanks for coming … how are you?” Mrs. Clinton said, working at a pace that even surprised store employees.

There were occasional small squeals: The friend of a friend of Mrs. Clinton’s old Yale roommate had come to call, and a pair of beaming Arkansas cronies.

But the loyal had their work cut out for them.

Buyers were required to stand in one line to purchase the book and receive the all-important voucher, then stand in another to meet the author and trade the paper for a signed book. Some had lined up in the early morning; by noon, the line stretched three blocks.

“Ah, it is the witching hour,” said jovial Trover employee Richard Coles as a nearby church bell tower tolled 12 times and the great shuffle forward began.

Mr. Coles had been sent to the line’s end with a walkie-talkie to cheer up customers and advise them that once they reached Mrs. Clinton’s territory, they were required to surrender all purses and packages and approach her with voucher only.

“I’d say this crowd is made up of women, four to one,” Mr. Coles said.

Indeed, women in business suits, shorts, jogging pants, straw hats, peace symbols and baseball caps were everywhere, talking on cell phones, drinking bottled water, sweating bullets and eventually fanning themselves with their vouchers.

Tom Lynns, who had lugged along a folding chair to sit on, had come on behalf of his fiancee.

“I’m going to surprise her with a signed book,” the Annapolis resident said. “She admires Hillary and she also collects books autographed by the rich and famous.”

By 1:30 it was all over, a half hour ahead of time.

Mrs. Clinton had signed every last volume at the rate of about 800 an hour — when 600 is the norm, according to store manager Steve Shuman. The police outside were fidgeting, the tiny news media area was now occupied by baby strollers and the man in the devil suit was ending his demonstration with a sign reading, “I sold my soul to Hillary.”

Trover’s goodwill ambassador, Mr. Coles, still smiled gamely, though.

“Yes, show’s over,” he mused. “At least until next time.”

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