U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated at a press conference Friday afternoon that America has made a pivot from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

That pivot was explained in her speech Thursday at the East-West Center and by a U.S. senior official on background later that same day.

America’s shift is a matter of economics, given that the Asia-Pacific region will be, as Clinton said, “the economic strategic center of gravity for the 21st century.”

But, politics also made an appearance at APEC Friday, just hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to arrive in Honolulu.

Is it possible, a reporter asked Clinton, that the U.S. negotiations and goals at APEC have been “somewhat constrained” by the fact that 2012 is an election year in the United States?

The reporter, Feature Story News’ Daniel Ryntjes, certainly had a good point.

The headlines in U.S. news have been dominated by the Republican candidates for president (and the Penn State football scandal), not APEC. And America foreign and economic policy under a President Mitt Romney, Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich would almost certainly differ from Obama’s.

But Clinton — no stranger to presidential politics — took issue with the reporter’s characterization.

“The issues we negotiated — growth and jobs, regulatory reform and competitiveness, and energy efficiency and energy security along with disaster resilience, open, accountable government — we think they are evergreen issues not here today and gone tomorrow,” Clinton replied. “They require persistent, patient work.”

Clinton Touts ‘Steady Progress’

Clinton spoke for only about seven minutes. She also took only two questions before heading back to the Sheraton, where a handful of reporters were granted access to hear her talk on women and the economy.

In responding to the reporter’s question about the election affecting APEC, Clinton said she felt the conference “was moving quite well in the right direction. … We think that if you look at the steady progress that has been made, there is a great story to tell.”

She also repeated the analogy that it took a very long time to build the “architecture” of Atlantic alliances, and thus it will take time for a trans-Pacific architecture to be established.

“So, I think we are making progress, and it is a long-term commitment that will certainly last far beyond in of our times in office,” she said.

And with that she left the stage.

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