KINSHASA, Congo — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s temper flared on Monday when a Congolese university student asked for her husband’s thinking on an international matter.
“My husband is not secretary of state. I am,” an obviously annoyed Clinton replied sharply.
A week after former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea to secure the release of two detained American journalists and stole the limelight from the start of his wife’s first trip to Africa, Clinton was clearly nettled by the question at a town hall forum in Kinshasa.
“You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?” she replied incredulously when the male student asked her what “Mr. Clinton” thought of World Bank concerns about a multibillion-dollar Chinese loan offer to the Democratic Republic of Congo. . “If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband,” she said.
The question was left unanswered as the moderator quickly moved on.
Sidelined for weeks after she was injured during a fall this spring, Clinton returned to a flurry of speculation that she had been shoved to the side as a diplomatic force inside the administration, overshadowed by globe-trotting President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a bevy of heavyweight special envoys assigned to the world’s critical hotspots.
Clinton launched into a series of high-profile speeches and television appearances. But just as she landed in Africa, her ambitious visit ran into stiff competition from her husband’s secret mission to North Korea.