AN ENTHUSIASTIC crowd greeted Chelsea Clinton last night at a Latino bar and restaurant in North Philadelphia and peppered her with questions for more than an hour.
Her message was basically the same she has been giving throughout her work with the campaign of her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"I'm here for the next president of the United States - my mom," said Chelsea, 28. "I think she's the best candidate. She's the most experienced candidate, progressive, and she can take this country to a new level."
Cobre, a restaurant on Broad Street near Brown, was one of two stops on her schedule last night. From Cobre, she went to Woody's, a bar that bills itself as "Philly's gay mecca," at 202 S. 13th St.
She arrived at Cobre shortly after 7 p.m. and enjoyed hearty applause from a diverse crowd of more than 100, including Latinos, African-Americans and whites. Many stood outside the eatery waiting for her, and the rest were packed into the small space.
Signs, including "American Con Hillary," were held aloft by fans.
The thin former first daughter was dressed in stone-washed jeans, a dark blazer and a white collared shirt.
She was greeted by state Rep. Angel Cruz, who introduced City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who introduced Chel-sea.
"I'm neutral," said Diane Guzman, who opened the restaurant 10 months ago. Referring to Clinton's opponent, Barack Obama, she said, "I'd love to meet him, too."
Questions, all deftly fielded by Chelsea, included the war in Iraq, education, veterans issues and other topics of interest.
Among the spectators was city employee Melantha Paige, who said of Hillary: "A lot of young educated people are rooting for Obama. They say they aren't for her. But I'm a young educated person and here I am, for her."
Ebony Meeks, a Clinton press secretary dealing with the African-American and Latino electorate, said, "Every vote is a welcome vote, but we've garnered a lot of support among Latinos."
Alexandra Monroy, an assistant professor at Temple University, said, "I'm not here for Chelsea. I don't know Chelsea. I'm here for her mother."
The deafening house music that played later at Woody's didn't compare to the thunderous applause received by Clinton as she stepped on stage. Standing below a rotating disco ball, she fielded more compliments than questions, in particular, when one attendee complimented the highlights in her hair.
"I hope you don't vote for my mother because you like my hair and her hair," she said laughing.
On a more serious note, she discussed equal marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, which resonated with Kris Wesolowski, 24, a former Obama supporter.
"Before I wanted change [with Obama], but now I want experience and sincerity," he said.
The event was sponsored by the Liberty City Club, a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender political organization, which endorsed Clinton on Monday. *