"An abiding theme that she has in her trip to Africa is empowering women. As the question was posed to her, it was posed in a way that said, 'I want to get the views of two men, but not you, the secretary of state.' And I think it obviously -- she reacted to that," he said.
The question followed her to her next stop in Nigeria, where amongst the very serious issues of terrorism in Northern Africa, corruption and rigged elections, she was asked to explain her comments.
"What was going through your mind?" a reporter asked. Clinton chose to ignore the query, focusing her answer instead on the first part of the question asking her to reflect on her trip thus far.
But that was not the only rhetorical misstep to snatch headlines from Clinton's mission in Africa.
At a town hall event in Abuja, Nigeria, she compared the 2000 U.S. election Florida recount to the allegedly rigged election in Nigeria.
"In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state," she told the crowd. "So we have our problems, too."
The comparison drew sharp criticism from conservatives in Washington, who balked at the notion that Clinton would compare a United States election to one in Nigeria marred with missing ballot boxes, inflated voter counts, and shooting of voters at polling stations. Again, the headlines were concerned less with governance in Nigeria and more with whether Clinton made yet another misstep.
Again, Crowley tried to explain her remarks.
"The point she is making is that it's about a disputed result and then the willingness of the candidates to accept a flawed result rather than, say, resort to violence," he told ABC News shortly after.
The final stop on her Africa visit was to Cape Verde, a tiny country made up of islands off the coast of West Africa. The country has enjoyed a prosperous and peaceful existence for decades, something Secretary Clinton praised. There she reflected on the entire trip.
"I love coming to Africa," Clinton told reporters. "I am always moved by the kindness and greatness you see in people who live in conditions and under oppression that is hard for those of us in America to even imagine. So I leave even more energized about what lies ahead."
In what seemed a fitting bookend to the trip, she said of her visit to Cape Verde, "I can't wait to tell my husband about a place that I don't think he's ever seen."