Making the rounds on the conference speaker circuit has kept the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state in the public eye and her name in the 2016 presidential conversation. Yesterday, though, it also put her in the line of a shoe-thrower’s fire at an association event in Las Vegas.
Having a well-known political figure speak at your event can be a great way to give it a little flash and to get some press coverage—but possibly for unexpected reasons.
Such was the story for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), whose annual meeting in Las Vegas featured keynote speaker Hillary Rodham Clinton, a presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential candidate who most recently served as President Obama’s secretary of state.
Clinton has been making the rounds of the association conference circuit of late, with attendees at some events impressed with the way that she’s managed to keep her speeches relevant to their specific industries while avoiding thornier political issues.
At the ISRI conference on Thursday, however, Clinton had to dodge more than questions about her presidential plans when a member of the crowd hurled a shoe at her head. Video of the incident quickly went viral:
“My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial,” she told the audience immediately after dodging the flying footware, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did.”
The incident was widely compared to the one in 2008 in which then-President George W. Bush found himself ducking shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist during a press conference in Baghdad. In both cases, the assailants missed their targets.
Behind the Scenes
ISRI quickly worked to restore order at its event—and pointed out that the woman who chucked the shoe at Clinton wasn’t a member.
In comments to Associations Now, ISRI spokesman Mark Carpenter said the woman was “not affiliated with our organization” and not credentialed for the event. Staff had previously denied her access, but she later pushed through security and threw the shoe. An ISRI staffer helped stop the assailant, who was then taken into federal custody.
The suspect, 36-year-old Allison Ernst, was arrested for disorderly conduct and released. The New York Daily News reports that federal officials declined to press charges, but she faces charges from local authorities in Las Vegas.
To Clinton’s credit, Carpenter noted, she rolled with the punches and stayed on point.
“We are grateful that Secretary Clinton continued in a professional manner to share her firsthand knowledge and experience of how the recycling industry has a positive impact on the economy and environment,” Carpenter said.
Have you had to deal with unexpected surprises at an event of your own? Share your war stories in the comments below.