BY modern American standards it was a very minor crisis, but a bizarre hostage-taking episode at one of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign offices in New Hampshire on Friday offered the former first lady an unexpected opportunity to display her leadership qualities.
Clinton was far from the scene and never at risk from a mentally unstable man who eventually surrendered to police after holding three campaign workers hostage. Yet her calm demeanour and authoritative response to a potentially ugly drama was yesterday earning her widespread praise.
Clinton followed the incident from her home in Washington, then flew to New Hampshire to meet the workers once they were released. A local man identified as Leeland Eisenberg was taken into custody and the bomb he claimed to have strapped to his chest turned out to be warning flares.
The incident followed a series of bitter exchanges among presidential candidates of both parties over who is the best equipped to lead America at a time of terrorist threats. Clinton has been mocked for suggesting that her experience as first lady qualified her for the presidency. “She has never run anything,” noted Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts.
Yet several campaign analysts noted yesterday that Clinton did not put a foot wrong as the hostage drama unfolded. “There was a sense that this was a dress rehearsal of how she was going to deal with . . . [a] crisis as president,” noted Robert Thompson, a media specialist at Syracuse University.