Page last updated at 02:25 GMT, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Clinton's thrilling tale falls flat

By Kevin Connolly
BBC News

Hillary Clinton's original description of her arrival at Tuzla airport in Bosnia was vivid and thrilling and entirely at variance with what really happened.

Hillary Clinton greets a little girl at Tuzla air base
Hillary Clinton's arrival in Tuzla was caught on camera

She spoke, for example, of how a welcoming ceremony had to be abandoned as sniper fire forced members of her official party to run for their lives.

"I remember landing under sniper fire," she said.

"There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.

"But it was a moment of great pride for me."

Unfortunately for Senator Clinton plenty of television footage has survived, showing the actual circumstances of her arrival, which were very different.

Hillary Clinton prepares to address reporters at the University of Pittsburgh on 25 March
I did mis-speak the other day
Hillary Clinton

She smiled and waved as she left her aircraft and then strolled across the airport tarmac to greet a little girl who read her a poem.

The embarrassing gulf between her recollection and the truth prompted this curiously worded climbdown:

"I did mis-speak the other day. You know this has been a very long campaign [laughs] so occasionally I am a human being like everybody else."

The word "mis-spoke" is a a useful one in this context implying, as it does, that something which feels like a lie is really little more than a slip of the tongue.

Still the Tuzla affair is politically damaging for Senator Clinton.

It helps her rival Barack Obama reinforce his point that she is prone to exaggerate the value of her service as First Lady in her quest for the presidency.

video and audio news
Footage of Hillary Clinton in Bosnia in the 1990s

Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
McCain - Republican
Select from the list below to view state level results.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific