Last night, Hillary Clinton flew into town from South Carolina for two fund-raisers, the first a closed door event with her major donors at Capitale in Chinatown, and the second at the Chelsea club Hiro—a small dollar event that was opened to press. Because of air traffic control problems in Newark, she was very late to both events.
Before she arrived at Capitale, former Democratic National Committee Chair and Clinton super-bundler Terry McAuliffe made an announcement asking all the donors who had already had pictures taken with Clinton to take a pass this time, so she could get in and out as quickly as possible.
According to Hassan Nemazee, one of Clinton’s national finance chairs, who attended the Capitale event, the campaign was mindful of the young professionals who were waiting for her at Hiro. “They didn’t want to make the younger people wait,” said Nemazee.
Attendees at at the first event included venture capitalist Alan Patricof, investment banker Stanley Shuman, and Fred Hochberg, dean of Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.
“A lot of people left early,” said Nemazee, who departed before Clinton delivered her remarks, but he said there was good energy at the meeting and he expected that the campaign would exceed its fund-raising target. (UPDATE: The Clinton campaign says they took in $750,000 from the event)
Clinton arrived at the second event more than an hour and half behind schedule. Most people stayed and applauded as McAuliffe warmed up the crowd up in his usual frenetic fashion.
“I think we could just hook him up and solve the energy process,” Clinton said upon finally taking the stage. The Chinese lanterns over her head and the red booths around her created a setting not dissimilar to the one in the opening scene of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
Clinton was energetic. She talked about how she has “really enjoyed this campaign” and called on her supporters in the crowd to “get involved for the next two weeks.” Then she hit them up for more cash. “You’ve been so generous tonight,” she said. “But please do everything you can between now and February 5 and then I promise I’ll give you a break.”
As Clinton recited her stump speech, Alex Trowe, the 22-year-old bartender up in the balcony, where the press stood or sat on barstools, gave a lukewarm endorsement of Clinton. When asked if he would vote for her, he said “Yeah, why not,” at which point he hooted sarcastically as Clinton talked about the “small businesses we have here right here in New York City.”
As Clinton is wont to do during New York events, she joked about how her daughter bore the name of two New York neighborhoods, and said “Chelsea loves Chelsea.” (Chelsea hates speaking though, even when offered the world’s biggest softball questions. Last night’s installment in our ongoing and very much one-sided question-and-answer session went like this—Question: “Chelsea, how do you like being in New York with your mom?” Answer: smile transformed into a chilly frown, a cold shoulder and a beeline for the door.)
After the Clintons left the club, men in suits posed for pictures in front of the Hillary for President campaign sign behind the stage. The evening’s DJ, Peter Paul Scott (a.k.a. Superdope Productions) said people were more excited to see Clinton than Tommy Hilfiger, or even Francois Girbaud, at whose parties he had recently played.
He told me he was impressed with Clinton’s message but remained torn between her and Barack Obama, who, he said, presented an historic opportunity for the country. Then he returned to his console and adjusted the volume, as darkly clad 30-somethings started drinking vodka tonics and dancing closer to one another on the floor.