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Clinton meets with staffers after hostage ordeal

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  • NEW: Clinton says the incident won't change her schedule or campaign
  • NEW: Clinton: It appears the man sought attention in absolutely the wrong way
  • Police arrest man they say held Clinton campaign workers hostage
  • Hostages released from Clinton campaign office
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ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Police took into custody a man they say walked into Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, New Hampshire, and took several people hostage Friday.


Police in New Hampshire take the hostage taker into custody Friday evening.

The man, Lee Eisenberg, claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest, but it turned out to be road flares held with duct tape, police said.

"He was someone who was not known to my campaign headquarters until he walked in the door today," Clinton said Friday evening in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she met with the hostages and their families.

"It appears he is someone who was in need of help and sought attention in absolutely the wrong way," she said. "It was for me and my campaign an especially tense and difficult day."

Flanked by local police, Clinton expressed her gratitude to the team that resolved the hostage situation.

"I want to thank them for their professionalism and their extraordinary work today," she said. "We're immensely relieved that this has ended peacefully."

Clinton also praised her staffers for showing courage and handling the situation "extraordinarily well."

She said she doesn't expect any changes to her schedule or her campaign in light of the incident.

The situation began when Eisenberg walked into the office at about 1 p.m., Maj. Michael Hambrook of the New Hampshire State Police told CNN affiliate WMUR-TV. Video Watch police take up positions »

On Friday afternoon, one of the hostages contacted the CNN Washington bureau and then put Eisenberg on the phone.

The hostage and Eisenberg called CNN multiple times throughout the afternoon and talked to CNN staffers.

Eisenberg said he had mental problems and couldn't get anyone to help him. CNN assumed Eisenberg could be watching CNN's broadcast and chose not to report his calls to avoid compromising the safety of the hostages.

Several people were caught up at the start of the hostage situation. See the location of the office »

A woman with a baby was released by the hostage-taker early on, she told a witness, Lettie Tzizik, who spoke to WMUR. Photo See photos of the hostage situation »

"A young woman with a 6-month or 8-month-old infant came rushing into the store just in tears, and she said, 'You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape,' " the Web site reported.

Bill Shaheen, chairman of Clinton's New Hampshire campaign, told WMUR the people held were volunteers.

Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. at a Democratic National Committee event, but canceled the talk because of the situation, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said. Video Watch Dean break the news »


Buildings close to the storefront campaign office on Main Street were evacuated, including local campaign centers for Clinton's Democratic presidential rivals, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards.

Cassandra Hamilton, who works in an office adjacent to the Clinton office, told WMUR: "I walked out and I immediately started running, and I saw that the road was blocked off. They told me run and keep going." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Kelly Marshall contributed to this report.

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