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Clinton revels in signs that Democrats are coalescing around her

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Rodham Clinton took a celebratory lap around Washington yesterday, reveling in signs Democrats are coalescing around her White House candidacy after an 11-hour grilling by House Republicans.

Joking about her "long day," Clinton told female supporters gathered for a party breakfast address that she tried to "rise above partisanships and reach for statesmanship" in her testimony before a Republican-led congressional committee investigating Clinton's handling of the 2012 deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

"Sometimes when a woman talks, some people think it's shouting," an energized Clinton told supporters in Northern Virginia later in the day. "I won't be silenced and I hope you won't be either. I will keep speaking out."

Amid questioning that at times bordered on a courtroom-style interrogation, Clinton avoided major gaffes in her Thursday testimony as she sought to portray herself above the partisan fray as committee members bickered.

The hearing surfaced little new information about the attacks in Benghazi and landed no blows to Clinton's presidential aspirations, leaving Republicans without a memorable moment to promote as Clinton approaches the first primary contests.

"You ended up having 11 hours of the reason why Hillary Clinton should be the next president of America," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton confidant, said at campaign event yesterday afternoon. "She looked like a commander in chief yesterday."

There were some early signs yesterday that the marathon session in front of Congress, coming one day after Vice President Joe Biden announced his decision not to run, may have helped Clinton solidify support within her party. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees endorsed Clinton yesterday, giving her the backing of an important union.

Her campaign said contributions flooded in after her testimony, with the hour between 9 and 10 p.m. becoming the best fundraising period of the campaign to date.

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