If she is elected President of the United States, Hillary Clinton will surely pay attention to the pleas from L.A. Mayor and Clinton-supporter Antonio Villaraigosa for funding to fix the sprawling city's horrendous traffic problems after her Friday visit to Los Angeles.
After a late Thursday night Senate session, Clinton left Washington the next morning and flew across the country to make a series of appearances in L.A., starting with a speech slated for 1:15 p.m. before the U.S. Conference of Mayors. But her plane arrived late to Van Nuys Airport, according to the L.A. Times blog Top of the Ticket. She then battled afternoon traffic to get from The Valley to the convention in Century City.
But everyone waited. She arrived about 2:10, The Times reported, apparently setting aside her stump speech to talk about the problem of keeping young African American and Latino men in school and out of jail.
Then it was back into traffic for the trek downtown to the Biltmore Hotel for a luncheon co-hosted by Yashar Hedayat, volunteer fundraiser for the Clinton campaign and LGBT chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
Everyone waited almost two hours for her there. And according to Shelley Freeman, a top Wells Fargo Bank exec and the openly lesbian LA Police Commissioner, everyone was pretty jazzed. Freeman said she brought an apolitical friend to both the Clinton fundraiser and the star-studded opening night at the Hollywood Bowl, which honored Placido Domingo. Her friend said that while the Bowl was great, "it paled in comparison to meeting Hillary Clinton." Freeman said Clinton later called her to apologize for being late.
Marriage is extremely important to Freeman but there are bigger issues.
"LGBT issues, while important, are not the only or even the most important questions in this race. The questions in this race are about when and how we will leave Iraq; what will our foreign policy approach be; how we will restore our eviscerated diplomatic corps and America's place in the world; how we will create good middle class jobs; how we will find and accelerate stem cell research so people don't have to die like my father did, addled by Alzheimer's disease; who will protect a woman's right to choose; who will protect our planet and work with other nations to do so; who will protect our children and help our crumbling dysfunctional educational system; who will help when the next Katrina comes; and who will help keep illegal guns illegal? I could go on and on. So yes, I want to get married, but I also want to live in a world that is at peace, that is safe, that has plentiful resources, and where everyone has a chance to live long and prosper. And Senator Clinton is the very best person to answer all of these questions - because she will listen, and because she learns, and because she is a person who will give us a seat at her table."
Senator Clinton next turned up for the 5:30 LGBT fundraiser at director Roland Emmerich's house in Hollywood, also co-chaired by Hedayet. Among the 250 largely entertainment industry party-goers were straights such as Marisa Tomei and Ken Olin and his wife Patricia Wettig from ABC's Brothers & Sisters, as well as gays including actor/writer David Marshall Grant, according to singer/entrepreneur Todd Murray.
Murray said he "shelled out the money" for the event to see Clinton up close and personal.
"I wanted to see if she was in-person as she was often perceived on screen - rather cold, indifferent, scripted. But thankfully, she was very, very human - a very, very smart human, but one of us. She came off with such weight and experience..."
The theme that caught Murray's attention was Clinton's emphasis on finding the commonalities, not stressing the differences among people. But one story really moved him.
"She recounted a story of her father, who grew up in Scranton, PA with, sad to say, typical rural prejudices (I grew up an hour from Scranton). After his stroke, Bill and Hillary moved her parents to Arkansas to live more closely to take care of them. Her parents' next-door neighbors were two gay men, a couple, who, poignantly enough, met while serving in Vietnam. Hillary's parents became very fond of them, and the men, so typical of our LGBT community, looked over her parents and cared for them as if they were their own kin. At some later time, her father was watching TV with his wife and saw some footage of a gay couple on the tube. He exclaimed, "Why do these people have to do this?" In effect he made it clear that his prejudice was alive and kicking. Then Hillary's mother sweetly explained, "you know the boys next door, they are those people." Hillary explained that he was completely unaware, but his prejudice toward gay people now had faces, and they were faces of two men he had grown very fond of. He later died in the hospital, holding one of these men's caring hands. I thought that this was a very real story for many of us, and very indicative of much of America."
A fence sitter going to the fundraiser, Murray left thinking "Hillary seems to be the candidate for me."
Hedayat later told me the LGBT event raised $200,000 for Clinton's campaign. He also said that there was only one somewhat rude question by a young man who said Clinton sounded scripted. Apparently she "schooled" the questioner, suggesting that the HE try giving 10 speeches a day. When the cheers died down, she added, "And that wasn't scripted." Hedayat said Clinton "blew people away," calling "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a "failed policy" and saying she understood something of what it feels like to be attacked by the right wing.
I wish I could tell you more, but fundraisers are typically closed to the press. I have no idea where Hillary Clinton spent the night or how long it took to get there. But I do know she left town with at least one more vote. Murray says he now wants to volunteer for Clinton's campaign.