Hillary Clinton’s Las Vegas adventure Thursday might be good training if the Democrat runs for president and has to dodge critics — in this case one armed with a strappy shoe.
A female protester threw the footwear at Clinton near the start of her speech at a metal recycling conference as well as some papers that fluttered in the air like wings, prompting the former secretary of state to declare: “Is that a bat?”
When Clinton, who wasn’t hit by the shoe, realized someone threw something at her, she took it in stride.
“Is that somebody throwing something at me?” Clinton asked, putting her right hand above her eyes to cut the glare of lights from the stage at Mandalay Bay
“Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?” Clinton quipped, prompting laughter from the audience.
“My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial,” she added, referring to what she was talking about when the protester took action around 1:52 p.m. “Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did.”
The audience of more than 1,000 people attending the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ annual convention applauded Clinton’s gumption and some stood, giving her a standing ovation.
The U.S. Secret Service confirmed the protester had sneaked into the convention and wasn’t associated with the group. The convention organizers said she was initially denied access to the ballroom, but later rushed past security.
“The subject was not a ticketed guest and had eluded hotel security to enter the event,” said Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie.
Secret Service agents noticed the woman and as they and hotel security approached her she threw a shoe. The women then turned around, threw her hands into the air and began marching toward the back of the room.
The woman was immediately taken into custody by Secret Service and hotel security, Ogilvie said.
No information was immediately released about the woman’s identity.
Dylan de Thomas, a reporter for a trade publication called “Resource Recycling,” said he saw the protester throw the shoe.
“It looked like a shoe with a strap on it,” de Thomas said.
The Secret Service didn’t release information about the papers the protester threw. But an attendee handed a reporter a piece of paper that was apparently thrown by her and it appeared to be a copy of a Department of Defense document labeled confidential and dated August 1967, The Associated Press reported. It referred to operation “Cynthia” in Bolivia.
After Clinton’s speech, which focused on environmental issues and international affairs, she took some prewritten questions from the audience. She didn’t mention any presidential plans, although she has said she’ll decide later this year.
Jerry Simms, the outgoing chairman of the scrap metal recycling trade group, started the Q-and-A by apologizing to Clinton for what he called “that crude interruption.”
Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York and President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state, was asked about a range of issues, several centered on whether the administration was robust enough in its responses to international crises.
On Syria, for example, she was asked why Obama didn’t follow through with a threat to take military action if President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, which he apparently did against his own people during that nation’s civil war.
Clinton said the United States decided it was better to work with Russia to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons, which she said the country had stockpiled, representing a greater threat to the entire Mideast region.
“As of today, more than 50 percent of the chemical weapons have been removed,” Clinton said. “And that’s an incredible accomplishment because you are doing it in the middle of a war.”
Clinton disputed the idea posed in another question that the U.S.-Israel relationship had weakened under Obama.
“The relationship has never been more solid,” she said. “The actions between our two countries, I think, are on a very strong footing.”
She noted the U.S. helped fund the Iron Dome missile defense system Israel is using to intercept missile attacks.
On Russia’s move to grab Crimea, Clinton said the U.S. and NATO would act more forcefully and be obligated to act militarily if Moscow made moves against former Soviet states now included under NATO’s defense umbrella.
“If he were so foolish as to move into the Baltics or Romania or Bulgaria or any of our other NATO allies who used to be part of (the Soviet Union), that would trigger a military defense because an attack on one is an attack on all,” she said.
Clinton’s visit to Las Vegas comes as she’s thinking about running for president in 2016 and ahead of the publication of her new book on her time as Obama’s secretary of state.
Although she said she won’t make a White House decision until later this year, all signs seem to point to Clinton launching a second presidential bid as the far and away leader of the potential Democratic field of candidates, polls show. Her Nevada stop was part of a three-state speaking tour this week that also included events in Oregon and California.
If she runs, Clinton will have a ready-made campaign foundation. A super PAC “Ready for Hillary,” which is urging her to run and promoting her already, raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of the year, according to Politico. The total includes low-dollar donations with more than 80,000 contributions so far, the political publication said.
“Ready for Hillary” organizers followed Clinton’s tour to sign up supporters and hand out buttons and bumper stickers.
Clinton, 66, reportedly receives about $200,000 plus travel and hotel expenses for such speeches to private groups.
In 2008, Clinton lost the Democratic primary to Obama in a tense, hard-fought race. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, served in the White House for two terms, from 1993 until 2001.
Review-Journal reporter Maria Agreda contributed to this report. Contact Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.