It felt like a homecoming as Bill and Hillary basked in the adulation on the eve of the New York primary they are very confident of winning and greeted old friends with hugs and handshakes.
It was fitting this was their last stop on a long and arduous trail which had taken them to the four corners of the state and had sent them at breakneck speed hurtling through neighborhoods, attending rallies, doing town hall meetings.
“Fag an Bhealach” was the old Union Army Irish battle cry, “Clear the Way,” and the Clintons have done that in New York. If they win here they will effectively have put Sanders away.
In the end it was the Irish who awaited the exhausted couple, ready to cheer them home. The young crowd were mostly kids when the Irish peace process became a reality, but it hardly mattered as they cheered and cheered again as the Clintons appeared in a rare joint engagement.
You could almost see the worry dissolve from their faces and the tiredness evaporate with the warmth of the welcome. Running for president ain't beanbag and it is a case of the old dogs for the hard road as the Clintons showed their mastery of the process again this year.
FitzPatrick’s Hotel on Lexington Avenue near Grand Central Station was the location and a beautiful outdoor area kitted out with Irish and American flags, a podium and two bars was the perfect place for a homecoming. It looked like a Hollywood set, the brainchild of John FitzPatrick who spared no effort to make the venue sparkle.
Fitzpatrick and John McCarthy, two of the Irish Americans for Clinton leaders, were leaders of this wonderful event held on a warm evening in Manhattan as the sun went down.
Other members of the committee, myself, Kieran McLoughlin, Brian O’Dwyer and Stella O’Leary were once again hosting the first couple, the third time in two weeks the Irish have – a clear sign how important they are to the Clintons.
It felt like a movie set when the Clinton’s entered, the best-known woman in the world on her historic quest to be the first female president and her husband who will go down in history as the savior of the Irish peace process among other massive achievements.
In the holding room Hillary embraced each member of the committee and remembered that some of us have known them since the first Irish Americans for Clinton meeting in the 57th Street FitzPatrick's hotel 25 years ago in 1991. I am lucky to be among those.
It is an amazing experience to walk out with the Clintons to the podium to see every camera and every face in the room swivel and then the shrieks and clapping and cries of support. They take it all in stride like the pros they are.
It has been a wild ride, the drive back in 1991 at the first meeting was for peace in Ireland and a dream that a visa for Gerry Adams leader of Sinn Fein would come about. Amazingly, both happened because of that decision to back Clinton and to push for the visa by Irish America.
Hillary Clinton made it clear that Irish lives matter in her brief remarks, talking about her work for peace and vowing that Northern Ireland would never be allowed slip back into violence.
Bill Clinton quoted the Irish proclamation, which has became part of his speeches in recent weeks, and spoke about the need to seek a center that can hold not just in Ireland but anywhere in the world that there is conflict.
Greg Harrington finished off the evening with two beautiful violin solos and, as the music echoed sweetly in the air, the Clintons said goodbye to the New York primary 2016. They know a victory tonight means they can make it anywhere. Now it’s up to you New Yorkers.
“It’s good to finish with a home game,” said President Clinton smiling broadly as he left the stage.”We knew the Irish would give us that.”