Hillary Clinton's Lighter Side

It's been almost a year since President Obama nominated his former rival in the presidential race of 2008, Hillary Clinton, to be Secretary of State. Now that she's no longer running for office, the rest of the world is getting to see what Clinton is really like. In the December issue of Vogue magazine, contributing editor Jonathan Van Meter tells of his experiences following Clinton for twelve days.

By Joy Lin

Were it not for Barack Obama's persistence, Hillary Clinton would never have been Secretary of State, writes Jonathan Van Meter, contributing editor for Vogue. He interviewed her for the December issue, which hits stands November 24.

"She said she was completely 'stunned' when Barack Obama asked her," Van Meter told "The Early Show." "She didn't want to do the job."

After traveling with her on her trip to Africa, Van Meter had lunch with Clinton in her private dining room at the State Department. With two aides at her side, Clinton recalled the span of ten days during which then-elect President Obama courted her for the position.

"He kept calling her and calling her and, at the end of the day, he was the one who sold the deal," said Van Meter.

Van Meter said he was most surprised by her stamina and demeanor while traveling with Secretary Clinton during her seven-nation tour of Africa. She attracted crowds wherever she went.

"She's a flirt, she teases people," he recalled. "She's a charmer. Maybe it has to do with the fact she's no longer running for office. She can relax. I may be encountering her at the very moment in her life that she's finally able to be herself and not worry about the scrutiny to win an election."

There was an exception, however, to all the fanfare surrounding her visit to the continent. Van Meter was with Clinton at Kinshasa University when she made a remark heard around the world.

When a question from the audience was mistranslated to, "What does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton, about the weighty issue of Chinese trade in Africa?" she took off her earphones and said, "Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not Secretary of State. I am."

"The audience was uniformly hostile," recalled Van Meter. "The crowd was filled with suspicion of Westerners and their policies. ... She was really surprised, I think, by how hostile the questions were."


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Read Jonathan Van Meter's full profile of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
More photos from Jonathan Van Meter's travels in Africa with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton



Joy Lin is an "Early Show" producer.
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