Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is known for her frequent travel to exotic locales, but her current 10-day swing through Asia has turned out to be unexpectedly colorful. Take, for instance, Wednesday’s paint-bombing of her motorcade in Manila.
Clinton was traveling through the Philippine capital when her procession was pelted by a crowd of youthful demonstrators protesting their government’s military ties to the United States. At least one paint balloon landed on the lead vehicle, splashing red pigment all over the windshield and hood. Other protesters got close enough to the armored cars to kick them, according to images captured by news photographers.
No one was hurt, and the motorcade passed through the area without further incident, State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed.
“The vehicle in which the secretary was sitting was not struck,” he said.
The incident was unusual in that protesters are rarely able to get so close. But it was not the only unhappy surprise for Clinton’s security detail during the trip. On Friday, while posing for photographers with Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, Clinton was startled when a nearly naked man dashed past her carrying a flaming torch. The man turned out to be a ceremonial dancer on his way to torch-lighting event, but the close encounter prompted a double take from Clinton, followed by peals of laughter. “I hope you all caught that,” she called out to the camera crews.
Clinton, who arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday to reaffirm a 60-year-old defense treaty between the two countries, also was subjected to a spirited grilling at a televised town-hall meeting in the capital. Students in the audience questioned their famous American visitor on personal matters ranging from her wishes for grandchildren (“I’m leaving that to my daughter and her husband,” she said), to the contents of her purse (BlackBerry, makeup, papers) and the playlist on her iPad (classical music and classic rock—“the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Doors,” she said).
At one point she bemoaned the ugliness of politics, saying that politicians now “have to grow a skin as thick as the rhinoceros.” And, minutes later, she was confronted by yet another protester, this one a young student who held up a poster denouncing the U.S-Philippine security pact.
After the man was led away by security guards, Clinton was asked whether such disruptions upset her.
“I’m pretty much used to it,” Clinton was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. “It goes with that rhinoceros skin.”