To hear Elizabeth Pring tell it, she covered a lot of ground in her brief moment Wednesday with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The University of Washington student queued up at 4:30 a.m. at University Book Store, making her 15th in line to reserve a copy of Clinton’s memoir, “Hard Choices,” and guarantee her a spot in a long book-signing line later that evening.

When Pring’s turn finally came to be face to face with Clinton, she told the former secretary of state she was an inspiration and that she admired her work in Cambodia. The two chatted about the history and politics of the country.

Total elapsed time: less than a minute.

“We had like a conversation,” a beaming Pring said after leaving the event with a group of equally giddy friends.

Pring was among hundreds who lined up for hours Wednesday for a chance to grab an autographed book and a few seconds of conversation with the woman who could be the next Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

Each got a moment with Clinton, who smiled and showed a politician’s knack of appearing oh-so-very-interested in each person’s comments.

Kevin Lee, a recent UW grad who works in insurance, said he told Clinton, “I’m going to work for you someday” — in the White House or wherever. “I’ll see you there,” she responded.

The event was tightly controlled, with Secret Service sweeps of the crowd and a strict set of rules: no close-up selfies, nothing in hand as the public approached the author and the stack of books she was signing.

With a “Ma’am, ma’am, move along,” security hustled away those who tried to linger too long, keeping them from holding up the line of hundreds that snaked through the bookstore and out into the street.

Journalists were allowed to observe part of the event and take photos, but Clinton made no remarks and was not available for interviews.

The media and general public also were not invited to an exclusive fundraiser Clinton scheduled for later Wednesday night at the Medina home of a local tech-company executive. The $10,000-per-person dinner, limited to 40 donors, was set to raise money for the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton’s visit to Seattle came amid mixed news for the former first lady, who is widely seen as the early front-runner among Democrats if she does decide to seek the presidency in 2016.

Her book sold 100,000 copies in its first week, her publisher told The Associated Press. That was enough to earn the top spot on the coveted nonfiction hardcover best-seller list of The New York Times that comes out June 29, the AP reported. But the debut was far slower than that of her previous memoir, “Living History,” which sold around 600,000 copies in its first week.

University Book Store said it sold more than 1,000 books for Wednesday’s event.

Meanwhile, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Clinton is a divisive figure for many Americans. Asked how they’d vote if she runs for president, 38 percent of registered voters said they’d probably or almost certainly vote for her. But 37 percent said they’d definitely oppose her, NBC News reported.

But while some have questioned whether the U.S. needs another Clinton in the White House, Staci Cenis, of Portland, said it didn’t bother her.

“She won’t be Bill 2.0,” said Cenis, standing in line at the bookstore with a friend Wednesday morning.

Still, if the Clintons wind up back in the White House, Cenis had some advice for Hillary: “She’s going to have to find Bill some hobbies — keep him busy.”

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @Jim_Brunner