Hillary Clinton gets shoe thrown at her, tries to make a joke about it

'Thank goodness she didn't play softball like I did,' the former first lady quipped after the hurtling shoe flew past her head

Hillary Clinton narrowly avoided being hit in the face by a shoe that was hurled at her as the former US secretary of state began a keynote speech at a Las Vegas convention.

Moments after Mrs Clinton, a potential presidential contender, took to the Mandalay Bay casino stage to talk about recycling, a woman in the audience stood up and threw the shoe at her in an apparent protest - quite over what exactly is not clear.

The former first lady managed to perform a quick evasive maneuver and wasn’t hit. She first seemed to think it was a bat, before a commotion in the crowd quickly made her realise someone had thrown something - and she wasn’t too impressed.

“Is that somebody throwing something at me?” she exclaimed. “Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?”

To the apparent delight of the 1000 strong audience, she then quipped: “My goodness, I didn't know that solid waste management was so controversial.”

Sensing a comedy opportunity, Mrs Clinton then proceeded to ridicule the woman’s throwing technique: “Thank goodness she didn't play softball like I did,” she said.

A black and orange shoe was recovered from the stage, and the unnamed woman responsible is being questioned and will face criminal charges. She also threw a number of papers into the air at the same time.

An attendee later handed a reporter one of the pieces of paper. It appeared to be a copy of a Department of Defense document labeled confidential and dated August 1967; it referred to an operation “Cynthia” in Bolivia.

Witness Ilene Rosen, said the woman walked down the aisle and got about six rows from the front of the seating area when she threw the shoe. She then turned around, put her hands in the air and walked toward the back of the room before ushers caught up with her.

In the hotel lobby, the middle-aged blonde woman sat calmly on a sofa, wearing a blue dress and sandals. She said she threw a shoe and dropped some papers, but did not identify herself to reporters or explain the action. Security officials then ushered reporters and photographers away.

Mark Carpenter, spokesman for The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, which organised the event, said she wasn't part of the convention.

Mrs Clinton has been travelling the US giving paid speeches to industry organisations and appearing before key Democratic Party constituents.