December 7th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Rice: Clinton will be 'terrific' secretary of state

Sen. Hillary Clinton is preparing to move from Capitol Hill to Foggy Bottom.
Sen. Hillary Clinton is preparing to move from Capitol Hill to Foggy Bottom.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that she believes Sen. Hillary Clinton will "do a great job" as secretary of state.

In an interview with CNN, Rice also addressed President-elect Barack Obama's victory, saying she believes Americans were "wise in wanting change."

Speaking to CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," Rice said she has spoken with Clinton since Obama named the former first lady as his pick to be the nation's top diplomat.

"I talked with her and we're going to sit down, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've known her a long time and she is someone that I admire."

Watch: The media obsession with Hillary Clinton

Though the two are from opposite political parties, Rice seemed to spare no praise for Clinton, who lost her battle for the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama.

"I've known her for a long time, ever since she brought her freshman daughter to Stanford, when I was provost at Stanford. I think she's going to be terrific," Rice told ABC's "This Week."

She added, "President-elect Obama has made his choice, and he's made a terrific choice. Hillary Clinton is somebody of intelligence, and she'll do a great job. She also has what's most important to being secretary of state, and that is that you love this country, and you represent it from a basis of faith in its values. And I know that she will do that.

"I've watched her - I watched her do it at the conference in Beijing on women. I know that she was someone who felt strongly about the Balkans and the need to stop that terrible killing there. So, from that point of view, she's going to be great."

In her interview with CNN, Rice described Obama's national security team as "people I know, and they are all people of substance. And the most important thing is that they are all people who are going to have the fundamental interests and values of the United States at the core of what they do."

Having grown up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, Rice said Obama's election was "quite a moment. It means this country has come an enormous distance. "It means that the United States of America is what it claims to be, which is a place of opportunity for all. I don't think, by the way, that we're still color-blind. It's remarkable that we have an African-American president.

We've had back-to-back African-American secretaries of state. We have African-American heads of major corporations. "But still, we see race and that's fine. But increasingly we don't see race as all-defining, of who one is and what one can be. As long as we pay attention to opportunity - to making educational opportunities available, which is really what got me to where I am and I think President-elect Obama would tell you the same thing."

Asked whether she would help Obama if he asks, Rice responded, "He is not going to need my help. He has got plenty of help. But of course, he is someone that I admire. He was on my committee, the Foreign Relations Committee. We have talked a number of times. He is going to do very well for the country.

"But eight years is a long time. The American people are wise in wanting change. Two terms is plenty. And I'm going to go back to California and on to other things."

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