The Hillary Clinton Selfie That Almost Wasn’t

Of all of the thousands of people who turned out to see Hillary Clinton last week, 10-year-old Harper Leary just might have been the one most determined to score a photo. But then the phone died …

Northern Liberties residents Marion and Harper Leary with Hillary Clinton on Friday, July 29th at Temple University. (Photo courtesy Marion Leary)

Northern Liberties residents Marion and Harper Leary with Hillary Clinton on Friday, July 29th, at Temple University. (Photo courtesy Marion Leary)

Harper Leary really wanted to meet Hillary Clinton. So when the presidential candidate and her large entourage went to McGonigle Hall at Temple University on Friday afternoon for a speech, the 10-year-old Penn Charter student and one of her moms, Marion Leary, pedaled their bikes up to see her. Alas, they arrived a little late.

“By the time we got there, it was already pretty full,” says Harper, who lives in Northern Liberties. “So we had seats in the back, and I knew the chances were slim that I would get to meet her.”

While they waited, the two chatted with neighbors and friends. Eventually, the program began, with vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine taking the stage to rally the troops.

“People came out and talked about why Hillary is a really good person to run for president and what she would do that would help the country and help others,” Harper told us from Bethany Beach on Sunday, where she is vacationing with her other mom, Lara Kelly. “After a while, she came out, and it was just really nice. I loved hearing what she had to say. I believed most of the things she said.”

Once the speech was over, Harper knew what she had to do.

“I started running down the steps,” remembers Harper. “And my mom yelled, ‘What are you doing?’ I told her I was going to try to meet her. Mom said, ‘How?’ I said, ‘I have no idea!'”

But run she did, and Marion followed closely behind. Of course, many other people inside the hall did the same thing, making the task that much more difficult.

“It was starting to get more and more crowded,” observes Marion. “We were trying to find her in the crowd. Fortunately, she was wearing a pretty bright pink sweater, and a lot of people weren’t wearing bright pink sweaters.”

Harper encountered a security barricade and went around it.

“She wasn’t going to be stopped by a little barricade,” Marion laughs.

According to Harper, some of the supporters trying to get close were being pretty rude about it, elbowing others out of the way as they yelled “Hillary!” And Harper wasn’t raised to be rude, so she asked Marion what to do.

“My mom told me not to not be polite about it,” says Harper. “But that I also didn’t have to be all ‘excuse me, excuse me’ and keep getting pushed back.”

Harper and Marion made their way through the dense crowd, but by the time they got to the front of the pack, it seemed that they were, once again, a little too late.

When they arrived at the spot where Clinton was standing just a few moments before, the candidate had moved far enough away that the probability of Harper ever meeting her was falling fast.

But then Harper started yelling “Hillary” over and over again with all of the force that her ten-year-old lungs could muster.

And then it happened.

Clinton stopped in her tracks, turned around, and smiled directly at Harper. She walked over to the girl, the two hugged, and Harper asked Clinton if she could take a picture. There was only one problem: Marion’s phone had just stopped working.

“The Secret Service guy said we could use his phone and that he’d send it to us,” says Harper. (Marion points out that they don’t actually know if the man is a Secret Service agent, but it certainly makes for a better story.)

And just like that, the photo was snapped, Clinton was whisked away, and Harper had a great story to tell. But what she didn’t have was a picture. Yet.

“My mom was concerned that he wasn’t going to send it,” says Harper. “We told people that if he doesn’t send it by tomorrow morning, a Twitter burst is going to come out.”

As the weekend wore on, there was still no photo evidence, so Marion took to Twitter, sending tweets to everyone from Hillary Clinton and her campaign to local media and… John Bolaris?! (John, we know you’re stumping for Trump and all, but you couldn’t even manage a retweet?)


And then, after about 24 hours of the Twitter campaign, the photo showed up, and the family rejoiced.

“I think it will change a lot of people’s minds,” Harper told us when we asked her what a Clinton win would mean for the country. “People would look differently at who could become president. Barack Obama changed their minds. And having a woman at least run will change minds. A lot of people now only see presidents as white men.”

Given that Harper herself could become president in 25 years, we asked her if she’d want the job.

“Probably not,” she says. “I already have my mind on a different job: marine zoologist. I don’t think that president would be best for me. I would get a nervous breakdown once in a while. It’s a very complicated job.”

Clearly, Harper and her moms are big fans of Clinton, but we wanted to know what Harper thinks of the current political climate overall and the immense divide between Clinton and Trump supporters.

“I don’t think that politics should take control of people’s lives and actions,” Harper responded. “No matter what you believe, we are all people. We might not become best friends, but just because what we believe is different doesn’t mean we have to be fighting so much.”

Amen, Harper. Amen.

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