The tense moment happened as Clinton spoke to students at a Congolese university in Kinshasa. A male student rose to ask a question about Chinese financial contracts in his country. The student asked Clinton what President Obama would think of the deal, but pool reporters in the room said the translator made a mistake and asked what Bill Clinton would think.
Clinton looked surprised when she first heard the translation in her headset, and then sharply replied, "You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am. You ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I'm not going to channel my husband."
At the State Department, Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley said the question she heard "struck a nerve" - that her opinion on the matter was apparently of less interest than that of her husband, the former president.
Crowley told CNN her answer must be considered in the context of her African trip.
"The Secretary of State is going to Goma Tuesday, to draw attention to the plight of women who are victims of rape as a weapon of war" in Congo, he said. "She did react to what she heard," Crowley explained. Even if the interpreter mixed up the translation, he said, "you can't separate the question from the setting."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee accused Democratic congressional leaders of trying to suppress free speech Monday and cast blame for the raucous health care town hall meetings on the Democratic Party's political allies.
"I have watched the news clips of many townhall meetings," Huckabee wrote in a blog entry posted on his political Web site. "At only two of the hundreds of meetings held, have I seen situations get out of control. Both of those incidents were caused not by the average Americans wanting to be heard, but by organized supporters of the Democrats trying to stop the free speech of people opposed to the proposed bill."
Huckabee, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination and now hosts a show on Fox News, took issue with an op-ed penned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in which the two Democratic leaders condemned opponents of health care reform for disrupting the congressional town hall meetings.
"These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves," Pelosi and Hoyer wrote in the op-ed published in USA Today. "Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American."
But Huckabee defended the protesters right to challenge congressmen and senators on the health care issue.
"An American voicing their opinion at a meeting with their representative, even in a loud and raucous manner, is not disruptive," Huckabee wrote. "In fact, the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment. In case our Congressional leaders need to be reminded, it says 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'"
Congressional town hall meetings have become the new front in the battle over health care reform with congressmen and senators back home in their districts and states for the summer recess. Opponents and supporters of health care reform have clashed at these highly heated forums being held across the country forcing the police in some cases to intervene in order to keep the peace.
The CNN Express is on the road and we are on a mission: Let Americans tell their own economic story. The first stop? Chattanooga, Tennessee.
After interviewing local residents throughout the day, we’re beginning to separate the heated town hall debates and politics of Washington from what the people of the 4th largest city in Tennessee actually want from their health care. The citizens we’ve spoken with are primarily concerned with three key issues: affordability, quality of care and choice of physician.
One father said, “I’m worried about the big illness that can bankrupt a family.”
A mother of three told us, “I want to afford the best care that I can for myself and my children. I don’t want to settle for less than the best if our life is at stake.”
While countless others voiced the need to “pick their own doctor.”
The bottom line is the people of this town were genuinely concerned and were looking for information. Will the government’s plan actually limit their choice of health care? Will it cost more money? How will it affect their family’s ability to use the emergency room in dire situations?
Along our entire journey from Atlanta, Georgia, to Des Monies, Iowa, we are going to answer as many questions as we can and constantly ask one simple question: What do you want from your health care coverage?
This is the conversation happening all week on the CNN Express and we’re just getting started! Follow our trip on Twitter @CNNExpress and @AliVelshi.
(CNN) - Despite Sarah Palin's suggestion that President Obama's health care plan will institute "death panels" to evaluate elderly and disabled citizens - a claim that was quickly debunked - her latest message to the public is a bit more conciliatory.
Posting once again on her Facebook page - the former Alaska governor's recent soapbox of choice - Palin on Sunday called on critics of the health care plan to turn down the volume.
"There are many disturbing details in the current bill that Washington is trying to rush through Congress, but we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment," Palin wrote.
Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, was presumably referring to reform critics who have shouted down members of Congress at several town halls around the country over the last week.
House Minority Leader John Boehner and a handful of other GOP leaders have defended the angry reaction at some of the forums.
"Such tactics diminish our nation's civil discourse which we need now more than ever because the fine print in this outrageous health care proposal must be understood clearly and not get lost in conscientious voters' passion to want to make elected officials hear what we are saying," Palin wrote. "Let's not give the proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee will release a new television ad Tuesday touting President Obama's efforts to reform the nation's health care system as he travels this week from the Northeast to the Rocky Mountain West.
"President Obama's plan will end unfair insurance practices like denying coverage for a pre-existing condition, outrageous out-of-pocket expenses, and dropping coverage when you get too sick," a narrator says in the 30-second commercial. "Health insurance reform means your family's care comes first, not insurance industry profits."
A DNC spokesman tells CNN that the ad will run on national cable, as well as on local cable in New Hampshire, Montana, Colorado and the District of Columbia. Obama will hold a health care town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Tuesday, before heading out west to Montana and Colorado.
(CNN) – Just one week after Sarah Palin stepped down as governor of Alaska, Alaskan lawmakers succeeded in overriding her veto of federal stimulus dollars.
The legislature voted Monday 45-15 in favor of overturning the former governor's veto of more than $28 million in Recovery Act funds targeted toward energy efficiency projects.
The Alaska legislature met for a one-day special session in Anchorage. Heading into the vote, Rep. Mike Hawker, who voted in support of finally accepting the stimulus funds, anticipated a close decision, coming down to a couple of votes either way.
“I think it's tight,” the Anchorage Republican said before the vote. A veto override in Alaska requires a three-fourths majority of the entire legislature.
Palin rejected the Department of Energy money in May and continues to defend the controversial move.
"As Governor, I did my utmost to warn our legislators that accepting stimulus funds will further tie Alaska to the federal government and chip away at Alaska's right to chart its own course," Palin wrote on her Facebook page Sunday. "Enforcing the federal building code requirements, which Governor Parnell and future governors will be forced to adopt in order to accept these energy funds, will eventually cost the state more than it receives."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The first primary contest of the 2012 election cycle is more than two years away, but some Republicans are already voting ... sort of.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee - which assists GOP Senate candidates - e-mailed a "Proxy Ballot" to some supporters on Monday asking them which Republican leader is their top choice for the Republican presidential nomination. The survey also asks Republicans to rank the importance of issues like health care, abortion rights and taxes.
While the survey has zero impact on who will be the next GOP nominee, the hypothetical ballot gives the NRSC a chance to tap into early Republican interest in the 2012 election to collect information - and money - from party activists.
So who did the NRSC pick as the Republican favorites? Twelve names appear on the ballot, which is heavy with governors and former governors: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah. Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. John McCain, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Mitt Romney.
Admittedly, it's a generous list. Romney, Pawlenty and Huckabee are traveling the country and mulling White House bids, but several Republicans on the list - while popular figures within the party - aren't likely to run.
Daniels has said he won't seek the presidency, although that early declaration could be subject to change. Huntsman accepted President Obama's request that he serve as ambassador to China, a move that didn't exactly endear him to Republican primary voters and will keep him busy for the next two years. And McCain, of course, has twice come up short in bids for the White House.
GUADALAJRA, Mexico (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Monday that Canada's government-run health care model won't work in the United States.
"We've got to develop a uniquely American approach to this problem," Obama said at the final news conference of his North American summit with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Opponents of health-care legislation in the U.S. House and Senate say it will lead to a single-payer system like the government-run program in Canada, with some warning the Canadian system means restrictions on treatments and long delays.
Obama noted the U.S. system is based on employers providing health insurance for most Americans. Throwing that out would be too radical an overhaul, he said.
"The Canadian model won't work in the United States," he said. However, he said he expects opponents of health-care legislation to continue to make what he called the misleading comparison between proposed U.S. legislation and Canada's system.
"I suspect that you Canadians are going to continue to get dragged into the debate," he said.
(CNN) - In an update to a story we brought you last week in the Cafferty File:
A group of Republican and Democratic senators is now saying “not so fast” to the House’s plans to spend more than a half a billion dollars on new jets.
The Wall Street Journal reports that these senators — along with the Pentagon — are critical of the $550 million plan to buy 8 new Gulfstream and Boeing planes for government officials and VIP’s to fly around in.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill says, “The whole thing kind of makes me sick to my stomach” adding that the move paints members of Congress as “out of touch”, spending money like it’s Monopoly money. Several senators are planning to oppose the purchase when they take up the bill in the fall.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here.
(CNN) - CNN Radio's Bob Costantini speaks with Republican pollster Bill McInturff about health care reform, town halls, deficits and President Obama's popularity.
Listen: Republican pollster Bill McInturff on Obama