"When it was over I just felt drained. I didn't feel anything other than that. I didn't realize it was going to be such a big deal to be honest," Clinton said in an interview with Buzzfeed's "Another Round" podcast published late Sunday night.
The comments offered a rare glimpse into how she felt after the emotional interaction on the campaign trail that many credit with helping her win the New Hampshire primary the next day, and blunting some of the momentum of Obama's win at the Iowa caucuses.
"It was a combination for me of feeling like somebody's asked me a really personal question and it's very hard out there and this is something that just demands your mental, emotional, physical stamina all the time and I just felt like, you know, how do I get up everyday and do this?" Clinton said.
And while some critics have since suggested that the Clinton's choking up was a scripted political moment, Clinton called the moment an "emotional, personal reaction" that occurs "when something real pierces the sort of political screen" that seems to engulf the day-to-day grind of campaigning.
Clinton also recalled more recent moments when she has become emotional on the campaign trail. Just last week, Clinton choked up onstage when introducing the mother of a victim of the Sandy Hook school massacre. And she also came close to tears late last month when a man told her his story of needing to take his mother, who has Alzheimer's, to work with him because he could not afford to quit his job or hire a caregiver.
Clinton also pointed to a double standard that women in politics and other high-pressure environments face as she addressed head on the criticism that she at times appears too scripted or "robotic" on the campaign trail.
"As a woman you're really held to a totally different standard and you're expected to be both strong and vulnerable at the same time. That's not easy to do. And so you just have to be who you are to the best of your ability but it is somewhat frustrating," Clinton said. "We all feel like if you do it you're criticized, if you don't do it you're criticized. It's just so hard to get people to realize that you know we're all different. We may all be women. We have our strengths we have our weaknesses. Eventually people they get you or they don't."
Clinton said she's "gotten kind of used" to the sort of criticism that has marred not just her presidential runs but her first run for office in 2000 to become New York's senator.
"I've gotten kind of used to it but it does sort of still pose this conundrum: How is a woman supposed to behave? Well how about the way she is and then people should figure out her instead of her having to figure out everybody else," she said.
The woman who asked Clinton that momentous question in 2008, Marianne Pernold, has also since addressed the moment, telling CNN
that she posed the question because "I admire her and I wanted to know her as a woman."
This time around, Clinton has been less shy to play up her gender and has focused lately on appearing less scripted and more personable to voters -- asking voters to take a second look at a candidate who has been in the public eye for decades.
Pernold, at least, has noticed a change.
"She's having more fun. She's not as stressed-out looking," Pernold told CNN in April. "And I don't think she has anything to prove anymore because she knows she did a great job."