PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Reporters were mostly only half-listening moments before Hillary Clinton’s eyes welled up with tears in a coffee shop here early this afternoon.
It was another of the increasing number of hour-plus gatherings put on by her campaign, and the majority of the reporters were scrolling around on Blackberrys or reading the newspaper or whispering to one another about the ubiquitous but somehow unmentionable Chelsea Clinton.
As Mrs. Clinton sat down at a large table and took questions from New Hampshire residents, the press mostly got to see the back of her.
But then, after the headline moment when she was asked her question by a 64-year-old freelance photographer—who wasn’t here for work—her voice seemed to give out. The reporters couldn’t see why her voice had started sounding so strange.
Moments later, when she concluded the conversation, reporters were still asking each other what happened. "Wait, were there tears?" asked one daily newspaper reporter. "Was this her Ed Muskie, 1972 moment?" asked another.
Only a handful of reporters actually got a good look at what happened.
Then the reporters here all flew to work; they interviewed patrons and asked what they thought and felt (many of the women there had started crying themsleves).
Patrick Healy of The New York Times seemed to be trying to verify the story over the phone, saying "I’ve never heard her voice like that." The Daily News‘ Michael McAuliff said, "This is unprecedented. We’ve never seen her like this so there’s no meter to judge her on."The New York Post‘s Geoff Earle was snapping a picture of the person who asked the question, since she was recently in a photo in the Post alongside Barack Obama.
Within minutes, the headline was on The Drudge Report. For better or for worse, from Hillary’s point of view?
Follow John Koblin via RSS.