December 1, 2007 in Nation/World

Four Clinton workers held hostage in N.H.

Alec Macgillis and Michael D. Shear Washington Post
 
Associated Press photo

SWAT team members take Leeland Eisenberg into custody after a nearly six-hour hostage and standoff situation Friday at the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign office in Rochester, N.H.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

ROCHESTER, N.H. – A man who claimed he had a bomb strapped to his chest seized four workers in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign office here Friday afternoon, police said, holding them for more than five hours and demanding to speak to Clinton before surrendering to police.

The suspect, identified as Leeland Eisenberg, 46, a gadfly well known to local police for his erratic behavior and who was scheduled to be in court Friday for a domestic violence hearing, gave himself up to a SWAT team about 6:15 p.m., lying flat on the pavement and being handcuffed. The capture ended a drama that interrupted the political chaos that normally engulfs New Hampshire as the presidential primary approaches.

No one was injured, and police said the alleged bomb turned out to be road flares. Clinton of New York, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, was in the Washington, D.C., area during the incident. She canceled a planned speech to the Democratic National Committee on Friday.

In a brief statement to reporters after Eisenberg was arrested, Clinton praised law enforcement for bringing a peaceful end to “a very hard day” and thanking the young volunteers and paid staffers who are toiling in New Hampshire on behalf of her campaign.

“Every four years, extraordinary young people come to places like New Hampshire because they want to change our country,” Clinton said in Washington before heading to New Hampshire. “I want to commend every one of them from every campaign. I’m so grateful for them every single day.”

Eisenberg demanded cigarettes, alcohol and Pepsi throughout the tense afternoon, police said late Friday. They said Clinton had been willing to talk to the suspect but was discouraged from doing so by tactical officers who did not want to meet that demand too quickly.

She suspended campaigning for the afternoon, just 34 days before the first voting takes place on Jan. 3 in Iowa. “Everything stopped,” she said. “We had nothing on our minds besides the safety of these young people.”

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