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Women Urge on Clinton at SD Diner

Hillary Clinton greets a baby at Tally's restaurant in Rapid City, S.D., June 2, 2008. (Reuters)

By Anne E. Kornblut
RAPID CITY, S.D.-- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived at Tally's Restaurant on 6th St at 11:10 am local time, an hour or so late. But it was, as diner stops go, worth the wait (not to mention the seven-hour journey from Puerto Rico).

Clinton first stopped outside to admire a statue, one of the many placed at important sites around town, not appearing to immediately recognize that this statue was of a young Ronald Reagan. "I love these statues. Now who are they? They are so neat!" Clinton said.

On the ropeline on the way into the diner, Clinton heard a cacophony of praise and encouragement. "Keep fighting!" one woman said.

Another woman melted into tears, telling Clinton she works three jobs and has no health insurance because she has had seizures since childhood.

Not a new story for Clinton -- but one that moved her long enough to stay and talk to the woman awhile, and then to have her staff get her name and details (Margaret Dimock, 38, of Rapid City).

"Don't get discouraged. Keep the faith," Clinton told Dimock. "We'll follow through," she promised her.

Moving inside the diner, Clinton passed from table to table, each filled with ardent supporters. She signed a little girl's pink Hillary shirt; a postcard; a copy of "It Takes a Village"; a receipt; and several copies of the giddy pamphlets informing South Dakotans that their votes tomorrow count.

Twice, Clinton passed by a woman whose friend introduced her as "Undecided Pam." Pam got her photograph taken both times.

At another table, Joseph Bryant, 19, asked Clinton about her views on women in combat. Clinton gave a detailed answer about the support and medical roles women currently fill in Iraq and elsewhere.

"I thought it was a great answer," Bryant said as she moved on.

Women at various tables encouraged her. "You've got to stay in, you've got the popular vote," one said.

"Thank you, thank you," Clinton replied.

Greg Olson, a former S.D. Democratic Party director, introduced himself and handed her a photo of him with her, circa 1994, to sign.

"Ten hairstyles later," she said.

"Thanks for sticking in the race," Olson said.

Another woman handed her a ball of knitting yarn -- a gift from her knitting group. "I heard you were a knitter," she said.

Several baby snugglings, photographs and signatures later, Clinton spoke at a microphone at the front of the diner. She thanked everyone, repeated her claim to be ahead in the popular vote, and described tomorrow's vote here as important.

"I'm just really grateful we keep this campaign going until South Dakota would have the last word," she said. "We started out way behind in South Dakota," she added, saying Obama has a "great base of support here."

"What South Dakota decides will have a big influence on what people think going forward."

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 2, 2008; 2:54 PM ET
Categories:  Hillary Rodham Clinton  
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