U.S. secretary of state dines in Chatham

CHATHAM–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Paris last Friday discussing the deteriorating situation in Syria with European and other world leaders. Press reports from the meeting made no mention of her stop earlier in the week at the Blue Plate restaurant in this village.

The restaurant, according to owner Judy Grunberg, had no advance notice that the secretary, her daughter Chelsea and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and also Mrs. Clinton’s husband, Bill, a former president of the United States, were coming. The restaurant does not accept reservations for parties of four or fewer people.

The Clintons, who are residents of Westchester County, chatted with diners at a nearby table. Cheryl Roberts, a local attorney and former Austerlitz town justice, said she was having dinner with her daughter Emma and Hudson residents Linda Mussmann and Claudia Bruce when the Clinton party sat next to them. “The Clintons could not have been more gracious,” Ms. Roberts says on her website, www.cherylroberts2012.com.

Ms. Roberts is running for the Democratic nomination for the state Assembly seat in the newly redrawn 107th District, which includes the towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook and New Lebanon in Columbia County, much of Rensselaer County and two towns in Washington County.

She said in an email that Mr. Clinton told them he had read about Ms. Mussmann and Ms. Bruce being the first couple to be married when the new law authorizing same sex marriage took effect in New York a year ago. Ms. Roberts officiated at their ceremony. Ms. Mussmann and Ms. Bruce operate TSL/Time & Space Limited in Hudson.

The visit also made an impression on Claverack resident Hannah Cashen, a server at the restaurant, who will soon start her freshman year at Cornell University in Ithaca. Ms. Cashen reported on her Facebook page she was so nervous that she accidentally spilled Mr. Clinton’s beverage.

People leaving after the movie at the nearby Crandell Theatre said they were unaware that anything out of the ordinary was happening in the village that evening.

Ms. Grunberg, who was not at the restaurant but at the PS21 performance tent a mile up Route 66 that evening, said that Mr. Clinton wrote in the guest book, “Wonderful! Thank you!” He reportedly ate only broccoli.

Following her stop in Paris Friday, Mrs. Clinton went to Afghanistan Saturday, where she announced that country would be designated a major non-NATO ally of the United States, a move reportedly intended to reduce fears that the U.S. would abandon Afghanistan after the major troop withdrawal two years from now. Like her trip to Chatham, there was no advance public notice of her visit to Afghanistan.

 

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