Clinton Speaks Truth To Power, Bill O'Reilly, A Fire Marshal, And A Huge Crowd

The surreal moments that preceded Hillary Clinton's town hall here might have been avoided if her campaign anticipated a turnout befitting a candidate on the rise.

500 people RSVPd for the event at the Merrimack High School here.

1000 showed up, 9:30 a.m, on a Saturday.

There was no overflow room and at least 100 folks were barred from the auditorium because a fire marshal said the room wasn't big enough.

Clinton herself was forced to play site advance -- urging, in strong words -- the fire marshal to change his mind.

"I want the fire marshal to see that there are more places for more people to come in," she said. " You come to a lot of trouble to get out this morning. We appreciate the enthusiasm. We've got a couple over here and one back there," she said, pointing to empty chairs.

Later, she asked audience members to raise their hand if they had empty seats next to them.

She then asked her daughter Chelsea to remove a barrier set up by the Secret Service in order to accommodate more people.

"Cheals, just want to take that off. People can just sit down, so people aren't up against the bar there."

The audience erupted in cheers.

"See? I am a problem solver, Clinton said. "I've been telling you that for this whole campaign," she said.

In the commotion, Clinton heard the cry of a toddler.

"I know honey. Sometimes, I feel that way too."

Clinton took her first question from a woman who said that Bill O'Reilly, who stood about 40 feet away from Clinton's left, asked her about Clinton's troop withdrawal plan from Iraq.

"Bill O'Reilly!" Clinton said, gesturing to the talk show host.

The crowd started to jeer, but Clinton raised her hand: "Oh no, no no -- he gets at least some credit for being here."

And she launched into a five minute disquisition on Iraq.

And then health care, which animated Clinton and the audience. Clinton lit into Obama's health care plan using harsher language than I've heard. "It's wrong on its approach, it's wrong on its merits," she said, "and it would cede to Republicans the argument that you can't cover everyone."

I thought Clinton's turn as director played well, but we'll see how several of the eminent
grises
in the press row -- Bob Novak, E.J. Dionne, Gwen Ifill -- interpret it.