Former President Bill Clinton signs the cap of Alan Weiss,...

Former President Bill Clinton signs the cap of Alan Weiss, left, at the Book Revue in Huntington.((Aug. 7, 2004) Credit: Newsday Photo/Julia Gaines

This story was originally published in Newsday on August 8, 2004

Cheers and shouts of "Go, Bill!" erupted in the parking lot of Huntington's Book Revue when former President Bill Clinton Enhanced Coverage LinkingPresident Bill Clinton  -Search using:News, Most Recent 60 DaysBiographies Plus Newsshowed up yesterday for an afternoon book-signing of his best-selling memoir, "My Life."

Casually dressed in blue jeans and Nikes, Clinton stepped out of a black Chevy Suburban and waved to a crowd of camera-toting fans, who spilled over a retaining wall in their eagerness to catch a glimpse.

Overcome with excitement, Anne Groe, 26, of Commack, could only tell him, "I voted for you," as she shook his hand before the signing. She and her friends slept on the sidewalk Tuesday night in order to get copies of the book for him to sign, she said.

It was a predictably warm welcome from Huntington, a Democratic stronghold where Clinton defeated Republican presidential candidates in both the 1992 and 1996 elections.

But more than 1,200 people from all over the metro area came to see him.

"I think he was really one of our smartest presidents," said Greta Tucker, 48, of Huntington Station, as she waited in line at the corner of Main and Wall streets. "And he acknowledged minorities in a way that other presidents didn't."

It was hard to find a Clinton-hater in town, even among the few Republicans present.

"I'm a Republican, but I voted for him twice," said Kriss Laino, in her 40s, from West Bay Shore, who was first in the main, 1,000-person line.

A second line of about 200 people on a waiting list to get their copies of the doorstop-sized tome signed extended north on New York Avenue.

Some grumbled and called themselves "the rejected line." Random House limited Clinton's signing commitment to 1,000 copies, and Book Revue had said in advance to sell only one book per person. Customers in line last week, however, were allowed to buy up to three books in the store.

In response to complaints, the bookstore's co-owners allowed 200 more people to buy books, but told them they could not guarantee a signature.

People in the first line trickled into Book Revue about 12:10 p.m. for a thorough security check.

Holding a can of Diet Coke, which he had requested from the store, Clinton conducted the signing from a lectern, bending his knees to stretch about every half-hour or so.

An assembly line of five aides opened the books and passed them on. Wielding a blue Sharpie, Clinton signed autographs with his left hand and shook hands with his right. Clinton said that at the beginning of his tour, when he had to sign about 6,000 books in a few days, he had to ice his hand afterward. "Now I can do up to 2,000 and not use ice," he said. "The way to do it is to not grab the pen too tight."

During the handshake, each person got to bask in what Barry Linder, 32, of Hastings-on-Hudson, called "the personal moment."

Most who came abided by the regulations, which told people not to offer anything other than the book to sign and that he would only sign his name. Clinton did personalize a few inscriptions and also signed some vintage "Clinton-Gore" T-shirts, but he turned down Jaks Phillips' request for a "Slick Willie" signature. "But I told him I loved him anyway," said Phillips, 60, of Bay Shore, sporting one patriotic striped and starred Converse sneaker and a blue one.

Clinton sometimes called women "dear." None objected. A number of women seemed near-swooning.

At 2:47 p.m., one of the bookstore's owners, Richard Klein, came out and gave a thumbs up to line of wait-listed book buyers, who started clapping.

By 10 minutes to four, Clinton was out the back door, hopping back into the Suburban as people screamed, "We want Bill!" He rolled down the window and shook some hands, then was off to a Democratic fund-raiser in the Hamptons.

 

 

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