Hillary Clinton far away -- but not because of politics
It seems like an irresistible story line: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Papua New Guinea (where?), nearly 10,000 miles away from Washington, when the Democrats lost control of Congress.
Surely she must be keeping her political options open! Why else would she choose to spend two weeks on the road during the worst week of her old rival's presidency?
Don't buy it. Clinton's trip has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with scheduling.
It was her idea that the United States should participate in the East Asia Summit in Vietnam, an ideal opportunity to make an impact in a region increasingly dominated by China. It is a leaders' summit, but President Obama couldn't go overseas just before the midterm elections. So the duty to represent the administration fell to Clinton.
Meanwhile, the earthquake in Haiti early this year struck just as the secretary was heading to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. She scrubbed that trip but had to schedule a make-up visit before the year ran out. Since she had to be in Vietnam anyway, this was the perfect time to tack on that visit.
Questioned by reporters about the results while visiting Port Moresby, PNG's capital, Clinton said she would work with the new Congress and suggested she did not think the results would have much impact on the administration's foreign policy. "What I have always found is that when it comes to foreign policy, it is important to remember that politics stops at the water's edge," she said.
| November 3, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
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