— From NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger
PHILADELPHIA -- Chelsea Clinton stopped traffic Friday night as
she wandered the streets of Philadelphia on a gay bar crawl, winning
rave reviews for both her politics and her appearance.
Led around the neighborhood by Gov. Ed Rendell, Chelsea was
mobbed by local gays and lesbians, as she walked from one club to the
next. They ran up to hug her, posed for pictures and certainly invaded
her personal space.
"I grabbed her ass," one young woman exclaimed to her friends after
snapping a picture with her arm around the former first daughter.
"Chelsea, the gays love you!" one fan exclaimed, as she took the
microphone at Bump, a restaurant and bar that was her first stop. "Oh,
gosh, I don't know if everybody loves me," she responded.
Most of those at the bar seemed to, squeezing past one another in the cramped space to get a photo. Even some patrons, donning Obama
stickers -- a rally for the Illinois senator had taken place a few
blocks away earlier in the evening -- tried to get a snapshot as well.
In all, she visited four bars in Center City, concluding her tour at
Woody's, the city's most famous gay bar. Getting from one event to
another proved difficult at times, as she was constantly stopped by
admirers while walking down the sidewalk. She reached into car windows
to shake hands and was followed by several young women who tried to
pose for photos on their camera phone, but seemed incapable of properly
saving the pictures.
Standing with actors Rob Reiner and Robert Gant, Chelsea appeared
overwhelmed at Bump when the mob started complimenting her hair, which
they had also done several weeks ago when she spoke at a Stonewall
Democrats event at Woody's. But she smiled and laughed throughout her
very short remarks.
While she acknowledged she often is asked who her mother will choose as a running mate, this crowd had other questions, with one man asking what Hillary would wear on inauguration day.
"We have to get her there so we can make that choice," Chelsea said.
At Sisters, a lesbian bar, Rendell reflected on Chelsea's statement that her mother would be a better president than her father was, and suggested she may have angered former President Clinton in the process.
Rendell appeared to be in his element. As Chelsea posed for more photos inside Bump, the governor held court outside, quizzing onlookers about Pennsylvania history, and grabbing the phone of one voter to talk to his undecided mother. He acknowledged to the caller that there were two good Democratic candidates, but said he thought Hillary would do a better job.
"OK, governor, don't run my minutes up," the man said, trying to get the phone back from Rendell.
Rendell has toured gay bars in Philadelphia since the 1970s, he said, and made a similar trek for John Kerry in 2004.
"We'll see tonight, easily, 1,500 people," Rendell said. "And they're all voters."
There was no policy discussion for Chelsea, who usually fields questions from college students at town hall meetings but does not do interviews with the press. There were no questions about gays in the military or same-sex marriage this evening; mostly just polite chit-chat.
As the tour continued past a bar with a terrace -- open on one of the first warm spring evenings of the year -- Chelsea nearly ran up to shake outstretched hands.
"Are you going inside?" one woman asked.
"I don't know," Chelsea replied. "I'm mostly just following directions."