by Jill Zuckman
A grateful Hillary Clinton flew to Portsmouth, N.H., Friday night to profusely thank law enforcement authorities for successfully ending a six-hour hostage crisis at her Rochester campaign office.
Clinton and her campaign suspended all activities – including a major speech before the Democratic National Committee – in order to keep in touch with law enforcement and relay information to the family members of the campaign staffers who were being held hostage by a mentally ill man with a bomb-like device strapped to his chest.
"It was just a horrible sense of bewilderment, confusion, frustration, outrage, anger – everything at the same time," Clinton said at a late-night press conference as she described her emotions over the course of the siege.
The man, Leeland Eisenberg, eventually released all of his hostages over the course of the standoff and was peacefully taken into police custody.
"I know I was bugging these people on what felt like a minute by minute basis," said Clinton, referring to the array of law enforcement officials from local, state and federal agencies standing around her, describing how she sought news about her staff throughout the day.
As a former campaign worker herself, Clinton offered a warm tribute to the volunteers who leave school, move across the country and work for little to no pay as they participate in the presidential election process.
"These young people who come to work on campaigns in New Hampshire are devoted, they're enthusiastic, they deeply care," she said.
Following the hostage crisis, Clinton dismissed suggestions that she might let the six-hour siege affect her run for president.
"I don’t see any changes in my schedule or my campaign," Clinton said in response to a reporter's question about her own security. "I love being in New Hampshire. I look forward to a lot more campaigning between now and the primary.''
Clinton said she planned to stick to her campaign schedule, traveling through Iowa on Saturday and returning to New Hampshire in the coming days.
Eisenberg was not known to the Clinton campaign before walking in the door of the storefront office in this gritty, working class town along the seacoast, she said.
"It appears he was someone who was in need of help and sought attention in absolutely the wrong way,'' Clinton said.
Eisenberg may have been drinking heavily for several days before the incident began, family members said, adding that he was also having severe marital problems.
"I believe he was seeking help and came to my office because he thought he might get some kind of relief from his own pain and suffering," Clinton said, declining to speculate further due to the continuing investigation.
Clinton repeatedly praised the calm, professional work of New Hampshire authorities, but she reserved her most lavish praise for the three staffers who were held hostage.
"They showed extraordinary courage, they were calm and collected under enormous pressure," she said. "They obviously understood that they could be in great danger."