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Clinton Fans Line Up for a Glimpse of ‘Living History’

The crowd seemed to grow with the humidity as hundreds of Washingtonians flocked to Capitol Hill’s Trover Shop hoping to catch a glimpse of the junior Senator from New York, who was dropping in to sign copies of her best-selling memoir, “Living History.”

They came sporting baby strollers, straw hats, paper fans and Chinese umbrellas. Some came on their lunch break, others sheepishly admitted to playing hookie from work. But mostly they just came in droves. One could be forgiven for imagining Bono or Mick Jagger or even “The Boss” was en route. But instead of Bruce Springsteen, die-hard fans were awaiting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D).

As usual, the early birds sat smugly at the front of the line. David Magness and his girlfriend, Lisa Emmi, had been there since the early hours of the morning and wanted to make sure everybody knew it. Hence the sign: “We got here at 5:30 a.m.” The two Alexandria, Va., residents said they’d risen at 4 a.m. for the chance to meet their political idol.

“Colin Powell did one [book signing] here and it was probably the best signing to date,” said Trover Shop manager and co-owner Steve Shuman, about an hour and a half before Clinton was due to arrive. “I have a feeling this will top that.”

In fact, Trover Shop management later estimated that 1,000 people had attended the signing, with around 1,500 books sold.

Customers waited in one line to purchase a book voucher (a limit of two per person) and then moved to another (considerably longer) parallel queue for the chance to obtain the moment’s hottest John Hancock.

“I thought I’d grab a piece of history,” gushed Capitol Hill vendor Diane Burley, adding that she hoped she wouldn’t have to wait more than two hours to get that bit of Americana.

Lt. Rob Goodson, the lone military representative in sight, stood stoically on Second Street Southeast, waiting for his moment with the woman he hopes will someday be his commander-in-chief.

Goodson said he’d endured a fair amount of ribbing back at the Navy Yard for having come today. “It’s tough,” he said, referring to his military colleagues’ general dislike for the Clintons. The military, after all, was a “breeding ground” for Republicans, he said.

Meanwhile, Rachel Cicero, manager of the Firehook Bakery just next door to the bookshop, stood with her clipboard, taking orders from the crowd. Sometimes management has to take on some unwelcome tasks, a frazzled Cicero admitted. “That’s why I got stuck doing this.”

But 18-year-old Emma Hersh, an intern for Rep. Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), was all smiles. “I just think it will be pretty cool to meet her. [She’s] probably a future president.”

Not too far down the line, Library of Congress employee Victor Kirby stood with a sign around his neck, sporting a photo of Clinton and the words: “Our Next Mrs. Prez.”

“She is the bomb,” Kirby enthused. “I hope she blows the Republicans out of the water.” Nearby, Supreme Court librarian Brian Stiglmeier agreed. In fact, he’d come in to work early all week just to be able to take the time off to hit the bookstore this morning.

Farther down the line, Clintonite Robert Weiner, who served as director of public affairs for the Clinton White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, stood waiting patiently, three interns in tow.

The 56-year-old Weiner, who said he was once subpoenaed by then-Independent Counsel Ken Starr, deemed Clinton “the dominant national political figure today” and praised her for her “courage.”

Clinton, he said, had been right all along. “There’s a vast, right-wing coordinated effort” to destroy the former first family, he asserted.

By 11:30 a.m. the line to get books signed snaked down Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, wrapped around Second Street and then proceeded halfway down the block on C Street.

Inside the shop, the 4-foot-10-and-a-half inch Evelyn Dubrow, a 92-year-old self-described “friend of Hillary’s,” stepped up to the register to purchase her book voucher.

She could barely see over the counter and she was carrying a cane, but that wasn’t stopping her today.

“I feel very excited and very pleased,” the former legislative political director for what was then known as the International Ladies Garment Workers Union announced. “So much for the Republicans and men who don’t like her.”

But it wasn’t just Clinton fans gathered outside the store.

Across the street, a handful of protesters, representing the D.C. chapter of the conservative Free Republic, began to gather. They held signs that screamed: “Hillary — the ‘other’ New York Disaster!” and “It takes a village to ghostwrite.”

About five minutes before Clinton was due to arrive, things began to get ugly. “Suckers,” cried out the protestors’ co-leader Kristinn Taylor, referring to the Clinton autograph seekers.

“Who hired you to do this? The RNC?” a woman in a blue blazer shouted back.

And then, Clinton’s silver town car pulled up and applause drowned out the discord. The perfectly coiffed Clinton emerged — decked in a navy pantsuit and pearls — and was whisked inside the shop.

The assembly line had begun, and Clinton — pen in hand and smiling wide — began to crank out her famous signature.

A second later, Magness and his girlfriend exited the shop beaming. “All I said was, ‘Wow,’” he grinned.