Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged today to claim her well-paid, perk-laden consolation prize — a return to the United States Senate, a place she has barely seen for the last 16 months.
The New York senator, whose public appearances have been minimal since she ended her presidential bid just a few weeks ago, arrived at the Capitol a few minutes after 1 p.m. She stepped from a black Suburban outside to greet the requisite throng of 250-or-so camera-clickers, question-shouters and well-wishers who had gathered for her arrival.
She skipped the first two groups and immersed herself in the well-wishers, meeting and greeting up a staircase and into a side entrance on the second-floor.
She was greeted as she walked in the door by fellow Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the latter of whom had arrived a few minutes earlier, looked around and concluded that the media donnybrook was for her. “Oh, how sweet, all for me?” she said, kidding (apparently). “And it isn’t even my birthday today,” she said.
It’s not Mrs. Clinton’s either, but she was met with a great show of warmth upon entering the weekly Democratic lunch. “I’m glad to be here, friends,” she said to Ms. Mikulski and Ms. Stabenow before entering the luncheon to sustained applause and clinking of glasses.
As much as it might be a source of solace to her, Mrs. Clinton is hardly the first losing presidential candidate to return to the Senate, nor will she be the last. Eleven of her current colleagues have made similar returns, including John Kerry, three-and-a-half years ago, John McCain, 8 years ago and Ted Kennedy, 28 years ago. (The list does not include colleagues who explored campaigns but never ran, such as Evan Bayh and Russell Feingold last year; nor does it include Barack Obama, who is still a senator, but who has been seen as much around here in recent months as on a beach.)
When asked earlier in the day if he had any advice for his newest ex-candidate colleague, Mr. Kerry replied — “Ah, compartmentalize,” and chuckled to himself. But in the senatorial tradition, all was civil and downright warm at times, at least outwardly. Mr. Kerry, a vocal and early supporter of Mr. Obama, went on to say how “proud” he was of Mrs. Clinton, and that “she set an extraordinary example for any candidate at any level.”