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Fire marshals, O'Reilly at Clinton event

From NBC's Christina Jamison
PENACOOK, NH -- "Mister Fire Marshal… could we let some more people in?" Clinton said today at the Merrimack Valley High School gym, a crowded place to be this morning. So crowded, in fact, the fire marshal had to turn away approximately 500 people trying to get in to see Clinton speak.  

After State Senator Sylvia Larsen introduced her, Senator Clinton took the stage and tried to fit more people in, asking those with empty chairs near them to raise their hands and asking the fire marshal to fill out the bleachers.  

"Mister fire marshal, we have chairs that people could actually fill if you could let some more people in…  we could actually fill some of these chairs, we've got some places in the bleachers. Could we let some more people in?" she said.

Clinton got through about seven minutes of her speech before she paused again and asked people to raise their hands again if there was an empty seat to get more people in.

"This has been our problem this morning, I apologize," she said. "We're really trying to get everybody in… See? I'm a problem-solver. I've been telling you that through this whole campaign."

Once the crowd was packed in (Clinton even got off the stage to seat a woman with a baby) the questions began. Clinton took 22 questions from the audience, making the event nearly two hours long.

Even Bill O'Reilly was there. O'Reilly came before the event started and asked audience members about why they were supporting Clinton and what they knew about her policies. One woman got up and told the senator that O'Reilly was asking her about Clinton's plan to get the troops out of Iraq, so she figured she'd let the senator answer it.  

Clinton playfully acknowledged O'Reilly in the crowd, saying "Hi, Bill, how are you?" to a mixture of cheers and boos, and then said, "You've got to give him points for courage."

This is all part of Clinton's New Hampshire strategy, taking as many questions as she can from the audience to show she has a depth of knowledge that allows her to deal with any problems the country may face. Traveling Press Secretary Jay Carson says the New Hampshire way is to take questions from everyone. 

Clinton's campaign has also made a point of saying she will go after the youth vote more aggressively in this state after the senator took responsibility yesterday in a news conference for losing that demographic to Senator Obama in the Iowa Caucus. Clinton is riding with some young undecided voters on the way to her next event in Durham, about an hour drive. And she'll be greeting more of the same at that next stop, a bagel shop.  

Still, at this morning's event, there was little evidence of targeting youth. The question-and-answer session yielded no news, as the answers have primarily appeared in her stump speeches or in previous answers on health care, No Child Left Behind, Iran, college financing, energy and sub-prime mortgages.  

While most of the crowd made it the full two hours, some did not go the distance. Even reporters looked a bit bleary by the end of it all. Still, Clinton wrapped the event and worked the rope line exhaustively, as usual.