Hillary Rodham Clinton won’t be seen close to Charlotte during the Democratic convention


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a trip to the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, with visits to the Cook Islands, Timor-Leste and Brunei, on the island of Borneo. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)
September 1, 2012

Several members of President Obama’s Cabinet plan to attend the Democratic convention, but the Democrat he beat to claim the presidential nomination four years ago will not be among them.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be about as far away as her State Department plane could take her when the convention opens in Charlotte. She left Washington on Thursday for an island hopping trip across the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, with visits to the Cook Islands, Timor-Leste and Brunei, on the island of Borneo.

With additional stops in Indonesia, China and Russia, Clinton will be out of the country until several days after the convention ceremonies are over.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said Clinton never considered going to the convention. He noted that it is customary for national security Cabinet secretaries not to attend partisan functions, and indeed the defense secretary and other security chiefs will not be in Charlotte either.

“This trip was timed around next week’s APEC Leaders Summit in Russia, where [Clinton] will be representing the president who obviously can’t attend,” Reines said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and a couple of others do plan to attend the convention, in what their offices have called an unofficial capacity.

Four years ago, Clinton did attend the Democratic convention that formally sealed her loss to Obama after a bitter primary fight. Some of her supporters cried as she pronounced herself a “proud supporter of Barack Obama.”

A few months later, Clinton was Obama’s surprise choice for secretary of state. Clinton insists that she will leave the job at the end of Obama’s term in January, whether or not he is reelected. Despite Clinton’s protests that she is through with politics, she is often mentioned as a possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.

The State Department’s Web site featured a picture Friday of Clinton arriving in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. She was wearing a lei.

Anne Gearan is The Washington Post's diplomatic correspondent.
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