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Staffers At Clinton's Favorite Restaurant Spill the Beans

03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I used to go to Lauriol Plaza in the 1990s when I would visit D.C., when Bill Clinton was president. During the time that my best friend was (briefly) dating Jake Tapper, who had previously (briefly) dated Monica Lewinsky. That's what the '90s were like on 18th Street NW. Sigh. I miss the '90s.

Like Bill, I still eat at Lauriol Plaza. I took my mom there when she visited. People give me such a hard time for liking it, because it's ridiculously popular and often overrun with tourists. But I've been going there since it was in its old location down the street, where Rosemary's Thyme is now.

I asked the manager, Genny, for permission before I started interviewing people. She, like everyone I met, was so completely nice... I'm... gonna tear up like Hillary did. But seriously, I had fun talking to everyone. None of them knew what The Huffington Post was (sorry, Arianna!), but they talked to me anyway, and were kind, friendly, warm and welcoming, even though I was basically getting in their way while they tried to do their jobs.

I interviewed five Latinas, five Latinos, one Caucasian American woman (Jessica) and one African-American woman (Tylisa). Here were their answers to the question "Who do you support for President?" and then their explanations:

Genny (Mexico), Manager: "Hillary." WHY? "She has better ideas." Best on immigration. "Might be" related to Genny's liking of Bill.

Misael (El Salvador), Bartender: "Hillary." WHY? "She's more prepared to be president. She has [already] been in the position with Bill Clinton [!!] -- she supported Bill. He did good things. The economy was good while he was president."

Marcos (Honduras), Bartender: "Obama." WHY? "I like how he's been working. I like his ideas. For Latinos... for minorities... he has good plans."

Herbert (El Salvador), Host: "The lady. What's her name?" ... "Yes, Hillary Clinton." WHY? "Because she's a lady." Herbert says he wants to see a woman be president.

Meybory (Honduras), Hostess: "Hillary." WHY? "I like her more. She's known best by people."
Miguel (Mexico), Waiter: "Hillary." WHY? "Because she's the Democrat. [sic] That's the mentality the country needs. The right philosophy." BUT WHAT ABOUT OBAMA? "I would love to see a woman as president."

Rosa (El Salvador), Hostess: "Hillary." WHY? "She's strong."

Candelario (El Salvador), Waiter: "Hillary Clinton." WHY? "She's better on immigration."

Ada (El Salvador), Waitress: (Expressed no preference until I rephrased the question from "Who do support for President?" to "Hillary or Barack? Huckabee? McCain?" and then she said, "Hillary.") WHY? (Not clear, had to go do something anyway.)

Delcea (El Salvador), Waitress: "Clinton." WHY? Doesn't like Obama.

Jessica (Lancaster County, Pa.), Waitress: "Hillary." WHY? "I like her healthcare policy better. She has the most experience." Jessica also points out that contrary to a common, regrettable stereotype about working-class Hispanics in this country, her coworkers are well educated and love to talk about politics... just not necessarily U.S. politics. She says they discuss Hugo
Chavez/Venezuela; Cuba; El Salvador, etc. I ask if she speaks Spanish. "No." Interesting.

Tylisa (New York, N.Y.), Waitress: "I can't answer that." It turns out that Tylisa has not made up her mind yet. Yet she has many interesting things to say about Hillary and Barack. She tells me that Barack is, to her, a fellow Leo (I knew that!). I tell her Hillary is, to me, a fellow Scorpio. Tylisa: "Oh, Scorpios are loyal. That's why she stuck with Bill." She tells me Monica is also a Leo. Tylisa and I are of one mind on politics! She also tells me she's sure Hillary was running the show from behind the scenes, Cheney-style, in the '90s.

-- GRAND TALLY --
HILLARY CLINTON: 10
BARACK OBAMA: 1
UNDECIDED: 1

Some general observations: The most-enthusiastic answerers say, with a smile, "Hillary" -- proof that that is the brand name that sells, instead of "Clinton," which... I don't know, it's already been used, right?

Also, no one seems to have a reason ready for supporting who they supported; I have to practically INSIST that they give me a reason. Granted, with the exception of Tylisa and Jessica, English is not their native language, and they are busy serving customers, so they are distracted. But it seems to be a very "gut feeling" situation.

When I tell one of the waiters that I need to interview one more woman, his colleague pushes him toward me and laughs, as if to say "Here's a woman for you." I think the one waiter (the push-ee) is gay. I would love to ask, because I think that besides with Hispanics, Hillary is also the number-one favorite among gay people, but I can't ask, obviously.

One of the waiters tells me something intriguing. I ask whether Bill was really a regular here, and he says that he has only seen him there once. But that Laura Bush has been there, on his watch, at least three times. (Hmm, why don't they have a framed photo of her in the lobby like they do of Bill?) (BTW, Meybory tells me that George W. Bush goes to Cactus Cantina instead.) Al Gore's been to Lauriol twice. Bill Richardson (Bill Clinton's Superbowl-watching buddy), twice. I ask who's the best tipper. He says, "Oh, they don't pay." Excuse me? But then he clarifies that it's not like they whip out a credit card -- a bill is sent to their "people," which is then paid. Phew. For a second there I thought there was some favoritism going on toward famous politicians in D.C.'s restaurant scene!