DAVENPORT, Iowa -- What was she thinking?
"You guys keep telling me, 'lighten up, be funny,'" said Hillary Rodham Clinton. "You know, I get a little funny, and now I am being psychoanalyzed!"
Of course she is.
What did one of the most scrutinized women in the United States expect when she ran for president?
The matter at hand, which reporters would not let go of at Clinton's news conference -- her first on the 2008 White House trail -- was a remark she made at a town hall meeting here Sunday morning.
What she said -- and her delivery and Cheshire Cat grin -- triggered a communal gale of hoots, hollers and laughter from the audience.
Why they laughed is another matter.
Clinton may have unwittingly said something people thought was about her storied marriage to Bill Clinton.
The New York senator offered conflicting explanations about her intended target at the news conference. Her warmth turned chilly when a reporter said the audience may have thought the "evil man" was about the "bad side of Bill.''
"I don't think anybody in there really thought that," she said.
But they did.
Here's what happened:
A man in the crowd asked Clinton what she had in her background that would make her a good commander-in-chief, given that the world has "evil" leaders and a lot of them "happen to be men."
Clinton rephrased the question for the audience because most did not hear what the man said.
"The question really is," she said, "we face a lot of dangers in the world, and in the gentleman's words, we face a lot of 'evil men.'
"People like Osama bin Laden comes to mind."
"And what in my background equips me to deal" --Clinton waited a beat and got a gleam in her eyes -- "with evil and bad men?"
It took about 30 seconds for the crowd to stop guffawing.
As I read the quotes I just typed, I'm not moved to laugh. (It was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments.)
As was Dustin Burnaugh, 21, a Davenport resident who said he thought she was referring to "the whole Clinton scandal.
"Everyone was thinking it, and she didn't want to say it. That's what everyone was thinking."
Pat Baxter-Rebal 64, of LeClaire said Clinton was making a sly allusion to "her history with her husband, all played out on a public stage. It was totally disarming" and a "masterful display of self- deprecating humor."
Clinton, asked to explain the crowd reaction, first said the "evil" man was bin Laden.
Pressed as to why she thought the audience laughed, she said it was the "failed leadership" of the Bush administration for the last six years.
Clinton spent the weekend in Iowa, with the crucial leadoff presidential vote.
Her motto is "Let the Conversation Begin."