WATERLOO, Iowa A Boys & Girls Club gymnasium in not the fanciest part of town. Folding chairs on a scuffed floor. Cinderblock walls. An old scoreboard with big light bulbs.
The speeches are over, and 42 and 32 that would be Bill Clinton and Magic Johnson are working the rope line.
It is hard to say who is enjoying it more. Both men are smiling and laughing. Both make conversation with the people who are lined up. Both reach deep into the crowd to grab hands.
But there is one difference: People take off their shoes for Magic Johnson.
Usually one shoe, left or right, it doesn't matter. They take off a gym shoe and reach it to him and ask for an autograph. He obliges.
Which then leads to a dilemma. What do you do with the shoe? Put it back on and risk ruining a Magic Johnson autographed shoe? Or do you hop back to your car on one foot in the ice and snow?
People do both.
What else do people stick out to be autographed? Cell phones. Odd, but true. People often don't have any paper with them. But just about everybody has a cell phone.
They also have money, which is why some people stick out dollar bills. At a grocery store in Des Moines recently, Bill Clinton signed a dollar bill, while Hillary Clinton declined, saying it was not legal to do so.
This is probably not the biggest disagreement they ever had.
There is no disagreement over the use of Magic Johnson, the popular former Los Angeles Lakers superstar, however. He is a good stump speaker. (Though the campaign tends to use him mostly in the three cities where Iowa's small black population is grouped: Des Moines, Davenport and Waterloo.)
"Sen. Clinton is about creating jobs," Johnson says to the crowd in Waterloo. "And she is not just about it today like many of the candidates but she has been about it a long time."
Whether this is supposed to be a criticism of Barack Obama is anybody's guess.
"I play on a winning team," Johnson says. "You play on a winning team. Hillary is the winning team."
Then Johnson introduces "the greatest president we have ever had in the history of the country" and Bill Clinton steps up and says, "Before I got into politics, I was as tall as Magic."
Everybody laughs, but, actually, at 6 feet 9 inches tall, Johnson does not really loom that much over the 6-foot-2-and-a-half-inch Clinton. (Johnson, who announced in 1991 that he is HIV positive, also appears to be in excellent health.)
"This is a happy election for me," Clinton goes on. "I will have been a voter for 40 years next year. I hate it."
Everybody laughs again.
"This is the best field I have ever seen," he says and the audience bursts into applause, perhaps indicating there are some undecided voters in attendance. "The whole field is good this time. We have a happy challenge: Who would be the best president?"
He lists a number of reasons why Hillary would be: She will "rebuild the middle-class dream" and "recover America's leadership in the world" and "reclaim the future for our country."
He also tells a little anecdote about switching to Hillary's dentist not long ago and how tedious a process it was.
"I sat there like a toadstool and answered questions for an hour!" he says.
A toadstool? There is more laughter.
He goes on talking about health care and how Johnson "is a strong man today, because he works on wellness."
He also says that Johnson, who is usually careful about what he eats, was led astray by Clinton that day.
"At lunch we had soup, gravy, french fries, grilled cheese sandwiches and banana cream pie," Clinton says. "We need a nap."
He grows serious and talks about how Hillary is an "agent of change" and then, interestingly, indicates she will have a harder time winning the primaries than in November.
"What stands between her and the presidency is not the general election," he says. "I think she will be elected, if she is nominated."
"Please caucus for her," he says.
Then it is all over, and he and Magic walk to the rope line. Where people begin taking off their shoes.