Clinton Talks About N.H. Hostage Ordeal

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks at a news conference Friday, Nov. 30, 2007, in Portsmouth, N.H.
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that calling the families of the campaign staffers taken hostage at her Rochester, N.H., office last week was the most difficult part of the ordeal.

"Those were the most emotional moments, I have to tell you, calling them in the first instants to tell them what had happened," she told reporters after a campaign stop in eastern Iowa.

Clinton said that while it was a traumatic experience for her staffers, "they performed magnificently under pressure."

"They were cool, they looked out for one another," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "They kept this man occupied. As you know from the press reports, he was demanding to speak with me and kept threatening if I didn't speak with him somebody would get hurt."

The confrontation Friday started when Leeland Eisenberg walked into the campaign office and claimed he had a bomb. It ended about five hours later with no one hurt. The 46-year-old from Somersworth, N.H., was scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon on four counts of kidnapping, one count of criminal threatening and one count of fraudulent use of a bomb-like device after he allegedly took three Clinton campaign staff members, a volunteer and a child hostage.

According to police, Eisenberg had road flares strapped to his chest and demanded to speak to Clinton, who was in Washington. He said he wanted assistance getting mental health services.

"I offered to talk to him," Clinton said Sunday. "I offered to go up there and meet with him. I offered to do anything to help this end peacefully." But law enforcement officials said "I absolutely could not talk to him."

Clinton, who flew to New Hampshire the same day to meet with the hostages, their families and law enforcement, said: "It was a very tense and difficult day. Thankfully, it ended well."