The Inquirer's Joelle Farrell reports from Radnor High:
After the event, Swarthmore college student Romane Paul, 20, spoke about the hug. He wanted one, he said, "because she's like super amazing" and has done a lot for African Americans. Clinton continued to meet and greet students and others, before she left.
Clinton continued answering questions. What would would do with Obama fans? She said she would unite the party. Two women talked about sexism and how it was time for a woman to be president.
A male student who scored a front row seat behind Clinton could barely contain his excitement as he grabbed a microphone and a sign. "So, first of all, you're like my surrogate mother," he said, as his classmates teased. "All right, sorry, so my question is what sort of, like, what kinds of things do candidates like yourself, like, what do you do on your off time? ...Also can I please get a hug after the event?"
Clinton agreed to the hug, then explained how hectic her schedule is as she roves the country trying to help people "figure out how to empower themselves." As for spare time, Clinton said she tries to get extra sleep or go for a walk.
"I also love to try to find some time with my family. My daughter and my husband are working very hard for me," she said.
She also said she deserves extra points for her work on the campaign trail because it takes her so much longer to get ready than the men.
Clinton asked the juniors and seniors, some of whom will be able to vote in November, to choose her. "There are a lot of first time voters here in this gymnasium," she said to cheers. "I would be honored to have that first vote."
A woman asked how Clinton, a "superstar" among women, has helped other women achieve success. Clinton said she never planned to seek office but was too concerned with the fate of the country not to run. She said she has encouraged women to go into politics, to college and into sports.
"I was never a good athlete, but I love sports," she said. "When I played basketball in junior high and high school you could not cross the center line. ... You could only dribble three times. So things have changed."
This auditorium is roasting. One can actually smell the electronics burning up back here at the West End of the gym where there are nine television cameras and a scrum of reporters banging away on Blackberrys and laptops. The kids have been packed in here since 9:30, and they're starting to look wilted, boys pushing their baseball hats up off their heads, students rubbing their eyes and fussing with their hair.
Clinton goes into one of her now-familiar bits, saying "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen ... I am very comfortable in the kitchen." She'd be "a president who can take the heat and make the tough decisions," she said.
On to Iraq, Clinton says, "There is no good answer, let's be honest here. There are risks and dangers associated with every decision we make, but that's what you hire a president for."
Clinton promised to protect military members and their families, saying she was ready to make the heavy decision of whether or not to go to war. "I will understand that the use of force should be used as a last resort not a first resort," she said to loud cheers.
As she opens her remarks, Clinton thanks Sestak and a guest, retired Rear Admiral David Stone, as well as other servicemen and women. "They put their lives on the line," she said. She spoke about her Scranton roots, and drew cheers from the students for saying the government needed to do more to help them to pay for college.
Sestak drew titters from students when he told Clinton he "got to watch you closely," speaking of her work in the Senate. "Did I say something wrong already?" he said as the crowd laughed. Sestak went on to say that his district, which includes most of Delaware County, is made of mostly regular people, the men and women who are the cloth of this nation, the people Clinton has reached out to. "I watched you and I want to say I'm here to say thank you for caring," he said. Sestak added that Clinton supports the troops by helping them with healthcare and equipment and promising to bring them home from Iraq. "She also understands that these men and women that are a national treasure that cannot be used recklessly," he said. "It's why she has said end the war, the reckless war in Iraq."
Clinton has arrived, prompting a round of screams as John Cougar Mellencamp's "This Is Our Country" plays. Students are taking pictures with their cellphones. On some of their heads are paper hats, folded out of Clinton handouts.
Earlier this morning, some students discussed today's event. About 60 percent of students favor Obama, said junior Taj Magruder, 17, a Clinton volunteer, who has made 120 calls for her campaign since Monday.
The percentage might be closer to 90 percent for Obama, said Cole Sebald, 17, an undecided senior who will be able to vote in November. "This is school is very opinionated based on what their parents say," he said, adding, "some parents think Hillary is bad."
One mother called to insist her her child be excused from the event, according to Joe Perchetti, head of security for the school district.
11: 30 a.m.:
Some boos rise up in the gym, when an announcement is made that Hillary could be another half-hour in arriving. All of Radnor High's 600 juniors and seniors were invited to witness the event in person, while some freshmen and sophomores will get to watch on live feeds in an auditorium and a second gym.
No sign of Clinton yet, originally due here at 11 for a town hall-style meeting that would focus on Iraq. She'll be joined by U.S Rep. Joe Sestak, the former Navy vice admiral whose 2006 defeat of Curt Weldon exemplifies a political shift in traditionally Republican Delaware County.