Mrs. Clinton's aversion to hypothetical questions has been a hallmark of her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, but her refusal to answer the paper-or-plastic query during a campaign stop in Davenport took even some of her closest supporters aback.
The New York senator had stopped by the local supermarket for a photo opportunity, but her appearance ran off the rails when she was blindsided by the cashier's unexpected question.
"This paper-or-plastic business is one of those 'gotcha' questions that I'm not going to get into," Mrs. Clinton said.
"I don't want to be in a situation where I've chosen one and that takes the other one totally off the table."
Shunning both paper and plastic, Mrs. Clinton left the store clutching an unwieldy assortment of groceries in her bare hands.
The paper-or-plastic controversy was the second bump in the road for Mrs. Clinton, coming just hours after a citizen who posed a question to her in a town hall meeting was revealed to be her husband, former President Bill Clinton, dressed as a woman.
President Clinton, wearing a blonde wig and an Ann Taylor wrap dress, asked Mrs. Clinton, "Will your presidency continue the glorious legacy of my -- I mean your husband's -- terms in office?"
Elsewhere, President Bush praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for announcing that he would quit the army, adding, "When I quit the National Guard, I didn't even give them notice."