On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 8, a blonde and a brunette were power-walking through the wooded back roads of Stamford, Conn., when they came upon a fund-raising party.
“Maybe we’ll see Hillary!” said the blonde.
“I’d rather see Bill,” the brunette said. “He’s a people person. She’s a …. ” She made a very sour face.
They were outside the stone gates that protect the gleaming white home of Cleve and Cheryl Christophe. Sprawled across a wooded hill, it looks like a ranch house that got smacked up by King Arthur.
Inside the gates, Mr. Christophe, in a blue blazer and a hilarious red modernist-pattern tie, strode down his driveway. He had been a John Kerry donor. So would he show up as well for Hillary Clinton?
“When?” he asked.
He laughed. “I like the Senator a good deal,” he said.
Mrs. Clinton has been running and running this past week. With her Senate race offering no competition, she has worked as a one-woman D.N.C., running on behalf of all acceptable comers. For small neighbors in Congress races, such as Kirsten Gillibrand and Diane Farrell, she has brought in star power, and donors. When she has campaigned with the local big boys, such as Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, she has swamped them.
Along the way, she has shown a bit of the muscle and machinery that stands ready to send her all the way. You know: that whole ’08 thing no one is supposed to talk about.
The races will go on—later this week, she will hit Florida, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
But better yet, Connecticut! On Saturday, Michael Koskoff and Richard Bieder, Bridgeport attorneys and Democratic donors, rolled up at the Christophe home. Mr. Bieder is the one with the little ponytail. The guest of honor, Diane Farrell, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative in Connecticut’s Fourth District, called them “The Tweedles.”
“She’s going to announce she’s running for office,” joked one of the Tweedles. No antecedent needed. Just then, Mrs. Clinton strolled down the steep driveway, towards the brook that ran like a moat around the base of the property. She was in a green suit, a five-button jacket, her hair squeaky-clean. She looked incredibly well-rested.
“Hello, my dear!” she said to Ms. Farrell.
They were going to address the press. Three microphones were mounted to a podium.
Mrs. Clinton then said a few things. “Who will set the agenda after November?” And about Iraq. “Changes need to be made.” And their hosts. “I thank Cleve and Cheryl for having us to their modest home, which I’m very impressed by.” She said Ms. Farrell is willing to “subject herself to Congress.” Such a job, she said, involves issues “which are no walk in the park, even on a beautiful October day.”
Ms. Farrell talked about Mrs. Clinton. “I miss her husband,” Ms. Farrell said. And: “President Clinton said it so beautifully: ‘Elections aren’t about the past, they’re about the future.’”
The power-walkers had snuck up onto the grounds to listen to Mrs. Clinton. What were their thoughts after it was all over?
“I like her!” said the blonde.
“Nah,” said the brunette. “Nah, nah, nah.”
With the Boys
The next day, Mrs. Clinton marched in the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan with some friends, or co-workers. There was Eliot Spitzer and then, next to her, Andrew Cuomo, the H.U.D. Secretary under Mr. Clinton. Behind her, or to her left or next to Mr. Cuomo when he got pushy, as he sometimes does, was the chronic baby-kisser, Councilman Eric Gioia, who once worked under the Clinton White House’s deputy counsel, Cheryl Mills.
Further to Mrs. Clinton’s left, next to Christine Quinn, was Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio, who ran Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in 2000. And there was Geraldine Ferraro, a little sweater over her shoulders, hanging tough. She was once Mr. Clinton’s ambassador to the U.N., and she got the warmest receptions from the politicos.
Mrs. Clinton didn’t look as fresh as she had the day before. She did find herself, as the parade up Fifth Avenue was stopped more than started, bopping in place to a brass band and, one time, standing at rest in a lovely third position. Her flowing flower-patterned coat was quickly handed off to her astonishingly stylish body-woman, Huma Abedin, who was already juggling a handheld and a cell phone.
Parade-goers, to judge by the crowd on Monday, do not have a habit of yelling “Andrew!” or “Eliot!”—except for a working cop, who yelled, “Eliot, I want a raise!”
At 47th Street, when Mrs. Clinton abandoned the men to walk with Ms. Ferraro, the crowd’s attention went with her.
Mrs. Clinton bagged out of the parade directly in front of 875 Fifth Avenue, home of D.N.C. pals Serena Harding-Jones and William Douglas Lese. He is the Fruit of the Loom heir. On the way to the car, she met a major general and talked about Lebanon, and had a long talk with a N.Y.P.D. fellow, name of Coyne, and then took the big black Sherwood van and the big black Ford Explorer to the thin bistro Via Quadronno on 73rd Street for lunch.
On the Island
Mr. and Mrs. Charles (Chuck) and Diane Doyle, she née Piazza, are a blended Irish-Italian family with three children who live in a two-story red house in Central Islip with a concrete Jesus out front.
On Tuesday morning, Oct. 10, Mr. Spitzer and Mrs. Clinton arrived at the Doyle home. He came first in a black Crown Vic with a driver, she a bit later, with five cars, herself in an Expedition.
“Hi Eliot, how ya doing?” Mrs. Clinton said.
She was in a black suit with a bright blue blouse. She took her turn with the young Doyle children—Mr. Spitzer had been talking to them about Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and about CSI. “My daughter’s all grown up now,” Mrs. Clinton said. “It’s hard.”
The two sort-of candidates went inside and sat in the living room, where some neighbors had been assembled. The press was packed behind the pass-through to the kitchen. “The press is here!” Mrs. Clinton said, as if astonished. She was very laughy. “Is this where you want me, guys?” Mrs. Clinton asked the cameramen. They wanted her further in the corner. Mrs. Clinton turned to the civilians. “You get an idea of what Eliot and I go through.”
They began their little coffee-chat a little before 10 a.m. Mrs. Clinton in particular was incredibly well prepared to discuss property taxes in central Long Island; also, she name-checked each daughter and noted a recent 13th birthday. “I come from a middle-class family until relatively recently,” Mrs. Clinton said; “in the White House, a little bit removed from it.”
On the topic of student financial aid, Mrs. Clinton argued for needs-based versus merit-based. “My daughter,” she said, “could get aid, though we didn’t really need it.”
An audience member would ask a question, for which one of the TV cameras and its attendant light would turn on. As Mrs. Clinton began to answer, more lights would turn on. Then, when Mr. Spitzer would talk, the room would become dark again.
Mrs. Clinton said, “I have a lot of friends who are living modestly. They’re not going on fancy vacations; they’re not remodeling the house.”
There was a nurse in the room. “I’ve got scars to show from taking on health care,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But I’m ready! I’m ready.”