Clinton supporters cheer, cry at book signing in downtown Austin

  • Johnathan Silver
  • American-Statesman Staff
Nov 17, 2017

For Lulu Flores, it still hurts.

“I really feel for her,” Flores said as her eyes welled. “She did not let anybody down. I felt like we let her down.”

On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, had been considered the favorite in the race. Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump bested her in the Electoral College.

Clinton — who met with hundreds of supporters and readers at BookPeople on Friday to sign copies of her book, “What Happened,” about the 2016 campaign — seems to have moved on. Many of her supporters, though, were shaken again remembering Election Night.

“A lot of our fellow Democrats are in a place of shock, disbelief, angst,” Flores said. “Others have shaken it off and persisted. And I have too, but it took a lot out of me.”

Flores, a Clinton supporter since the former first lady’s days in the Senate and a grass-roots fundraiser for her presidential campaign, stood in a line that stretched around the block downtown. Once she was in front of Clinton, Flores said she thanked Clinton for her work.

“Reading the book helped me heal,” she said. “Once again, she’s leading by example.”

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The occasion wasn’t all somber. Fans of Clinton could be seen screaming, crying and jumping after leaving with a signed copy of her book. A few people stopped in their cars to tell people in the line that the wait was worth it.

“Tell her you’re running for office,” one woman shouted from the passenger side of a car before it sped off. “She’ll talk to you.”

Also in line was Kate Asaff, a tech professional who has been a Clinton fan since her husband, former President Bill Clinton, first ran for president.

“Tears. Screaming. Lots of swear words,” she recalled of her election reaction. “It was just an incredible disappointment. I was expecting to wake up to a bright future. Instead, I woke up, and it felt like a bomb had dropped.”

That “bomb” has come in the form of threats to the Affordable Care Act and protections for LGBT people, and “zero skills” in diplomacy, Asaff listed, before taking a breath.

Asaff’s message to Hillary Clinton: “Just thank you because she has so much class and grace, and she hasn’t been silent.”

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Rochelle Palmer, her husband, Sean, and their daughter, Malia, 13, traveled from Houston to see Clinton.

“To put yourself out there … and to do good, I want to thank her for that,” Rochelle Palmer said. “She’s an inspiration to me and my daughter.”

Her interaction with Clinton was short, but sweet, she said later.

“For that 1.25 seconds, it’s just you and her,” Rochelle Palmer said.

Malia Palmer, in tears, said Clinton is her hero.

“She’s done so much in the face of so much resistance,” she said. “I would tell her that she inspires me.”

Malia Palmer also has political aspirations.

“I would like to be a senator,” she said, before hesitating.

Go ahead and say it, her father, Sean Palmer, said.

“I would like to be a senator,” she said. “And then president.”

Sean Palmer said he would not have traveled to see Clinton on his own.

“For me, what’s crucial is to bless and support Malia’s aspirations,” he said.