Hillary Clinton steers clear of Washington fall-out
Hillary Clinton remains untouched by the fall-out from the Democrats' savaging in the midterm elections, having stayed thousands of miles away from Washington.
The Secretary of State is currently on a visit to Australia, following her stops in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
While some of her colleagues deal with bitter recriminations over the worst midterm losses in more than 60 years, Mrs Clinton has outwardly enjoyed meetings with foreign dignitaries.
On Sunday she and Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, held meetings with their Australian counterparts to discuss improving military ties between the two countries.
During a high-spirited event in Christchurch, New Zealand, she prompted laughter by telling the city's mayor, Bob Parker, that his mayoral chains were "excellent bling".
Mrs Clinton also answered questions from young Australians on climate change, the war in Afghanistan and the Muslim veil, in a town hall-style event.
Mrs Clinton was saved from being tarnished by the Democrats' election effort by a convention dictating that the Secretary of State should remain above political campaigning.
While in New Zealand, she insisted she would not challenge Barack Obama to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012 and played down suggestions of another attempt in 2016.
"I'm very pleased to be doing what I'm doing as Secretary of State," she said.