Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Clinton opens Bakery Square office

It will serve as hub during the campaign

- By Dan Majors

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dozens of organizers and volunteers for Hillary Clinton’s presidenti­al campaign gathered in a suite in Bakery Square on Thursday for a launch party. They’re launching themselves. The opening of the new campaign office in Larimer — one of several the Clinton campaign has in Allegheny and Washington counties — was a pep rally of sorts for the foot soldiers who will be knocking on doors and calling phones in the coming weeks, urging people to register to vote and then use that vote for the Democratic candidate.

The Bakery Square office will serve as a hub for mobilizati­on in the city and beyond.

Like most parties, there was food, balloons, hugs and laughter. But not all parties have a sign-up sheet, and a visit from actor and director Richard Schiff, known for his role as Toby Ziegler on the longrunnin­g television show “The West Wing.”

Mr. Schiff, whose wife, Sheila Kelley, is from Greensburg, came to thank the volunteers and to impress upon them how important their contributi­ons are.

“The last time I did this was in ’08 for Sen. [Joe] Biden,” Mr. Schiff said during his 15-minute remarks. “I remember we were campaignin­g in Iowa, and I remember the enthusiasm for [Barack] Obama and Clinton, especially [among] the young people. These people changed the course of history. I think about the effort that they made to make a difference whenever I come out to stump nowadays.”

Squirrel Hill resident Lainey Newman, a student at Barack Obama Academy of Internatio­nal Studies, is 17 and won’t be old enough to vote in November’s election. But she is eager to help win an election that she knows will shape her future.

“I’ve always liked to debate and talk politics since I was in fourth grade, running around the playground asking other kids who their parents were voting for — Barack Obama or John McCain,” she said. “I’ve been supporting Hillary pretty much since she announced her campaign. I’m excited about her.”

Her excitement for Ms. Clinton was burning back in April when she had the opportunit­y to introduce the candidate at a Westmorela­nd County rally. And it withstood the opposition of her friends, who were backing Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries.

“I didn’t budge,” she said. “I was always on Team Hillary. I see the appeal of [Mr. Sanders’] politics. They’re idealistic, they’re quixotic. But I felt Hillary was the more experience­d candidate, that she’ll be able to get stuff done. I believe in compromise if it’s necessary.

“Now, I’ve seen even the most Bernie bros of the Bernie bros slowly transform. I’d like to think that’s because of me, but it’s probably not.”

Still, campaign organizers refuse to underestim­ate the importance of the campaign volunteers — or the voters they contact.

Paul Weinbaum, 63, and his wife, Leslie, of Edgewood, had never worked on a campaign before dropping by the Bakery Square office on Thursday. Ms. Weinbaum described the prospect of volunteeri­ng as exciting but also a little bit intimidati­ng.

“We’ll see what needs to be done,” she said. “I tend to be a behind-the-scenes person, so I’d probably be more comfortabl­e working the phones than going door to door.”

She said her reason for pitching in is fairly straight-forward.

“I really would like to see this election go to somebody that can do the job,” she said. “I think Hillary can do the job, and I don’t think Donald Trump can.”

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