January 27th, 2013
03:27 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama publicly thanks Clinton in '60 Minutes' interview

(CNN) - President Barack Obama said Hillary Clinton will go down "as one of the finest secretaries of state" as he sat next to her in their first joint interview Sunday night on CBS's "60 Minutes."

"The main thing is I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say 'thank you,'" he said when asked why he wanted to do the interview with his former political foe.

"It has been a great collaboration over the last four years," he continued. "I'm going to miss her, wish she was sticking around, but she has logged in so many miles I can't begrudge her wanting to take it easy for a little bit."

Nearly 1 million miles and 112 countries, in fact, she said Wednesday when she appeared before congressional committees to testify about last year's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, Clinton is set to depart the world stage - at least for now, as she has been floated as a presidential contender in 2016. She appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week in support of Sen. John Kerry, the man Obama tapped to replace her.

While Clinton has talked about the wear and tear of the job and recently had a health scare, she said in the "60 Minutes" interview that she found working with Obama and serving as her nation's top diplomat extremely satisfying.

"This has been just an extraordinary opportunity to work with him as a partner and friend and to do our very best," she said. "It's something that I'm going to miss a great deal."

While Clinton and Obama competed bitterly in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, the two have been highly complimentary of each other during the president's first term. In the interview that aired Sunday, Clinton said such a public sit-down would have been "improbable" a few years ago because "we had that very long, hard primary campaign."

"But, you know, I've gone around the world on behalf of the president and our country, and one of the things that I say to people - because I think it helps them understand - I say, look, in politics and in democracy, sometimes you win elections and sometimes you lose elections. And I worked very hard, but I lost. And then President Obama asked me to be secretary of state, and I said yes. And why did he ask me, and why did I say yes? Because we both love our country."

Not only has Hillary Clinton played a big role in Obama's first four years of office, but her husband and former President Bill Clinton also was a crucial part of Obama's re-election bid last year. The 42nd president appeared on the stump for Obama in key swing states and had a prime-time speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention.

While admitting that their respective staffs may have had a difficult time getting over rancor from the 2008 primary, Obama said that it was not as hard for him.

The president said that even before they both ran for president, he had admired Clinton's "discipline, her thoughtfulness, her ability to project and make issues that were clear." Those attributes, as well as her standing as "already a world figure," made her a smart choice for secretary of state - even if she didn't initially jump at the opportunity.

"We're both gluttons for punishment," she said jokingly of her decision to take the job despite numerous global challenges and the president having his hands full dealing with an economic crisis at home.

Obama said he had always respected Clinton and knew she would excel, but what changed over the years is that they became "strong" friends.

It was a sentiment echoed by Clinton, who described her relationship with her boss as "very warm, close."

"I think there's a sense of understanding that sometimes doesn't even take words," she said.

As a former popular first lady, U.S. senator and now secretary of state, experts say Clinton is well-positioned to be the Democratic frontrunner if she seeks a White House bid in 2016. But presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said much of her decision will largely depend on her health.

"She needs rest. She's exhausted," he said Sunday on CNN's Newsroom. Clinton returned to work earlier this month after being treated for illness, a concussion and blood clot near her brain. "She needs to work on a memoir, she'll probably give speeches. At that point, in about 18 months or two years, they have a big decision to make."

Brinkley described her as "somebody who does not lack ambition" and will be highly influenced by the "ability to break the glass ceiling and be the first female president."

"The question is whether she's up for the exhaustion of going to the Iowa caucus, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and having (Monica) Lewinsky and other issues from the '90s come back and haunt her in some ways," Brinkley said. "Does she have that fight in her?"

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Secretary Clinton has done a magnificent job in spite of the mindless attacks from the useless Republicans in Congress. They justify their existence with destructive and obstructive political theater – never actually working in the best interest's of the American middle-class. Secretary Clinton is a true American patriot and deserves our gratitude.

    January 27, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. n, tx

    Mrs Clinton will be a great president and she will win election,

    January 27, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    Clinton2Obama: so you're going to vote for me this time eh?
    Obama2Clinton: bless joes little pea-peaking heart ....of course Hillary.

    January 27, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. JD

    Secretary Clinton has done a fantastic job.

    Now, for the record, Senator Clinton voted for force in Iraq. Unlike other Senators, or really anyone else, she knew what the President knew. Enough of the non-sense of Bush lieing to go to war. Or, you're knowling supporting someone who participated in that lie.

    January 27, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. mlaroux

    Rest up. See you soon, Madame Secretary.

    January 27, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. blake

    Really? One of the finest in American history? Name one significant thing she accomplished as Secretary of State. How about her involvement in the negligence resulting in four deaths, followed by repeated lies, followed up coverup effort regarding Benghazi?

    January 27, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Blinded by the republican lie

    President Obama just endorsed the next President of the United States.....Hillary Clinton!!!

    January 27, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Eman De'Riuqer

    Well, sure. She has to take it easy before she runs for president. That will really take it out of you even when you're young, and we know Biden isn't going to cut it. People are okay with him being second banana because he's funny, and savvy, but he's the Gaff-O-Matic 5000, and you don't nominate a Gaff-O-Matic with any model number to the office of the Presidency of the United States.

    Will Billy be okay with being the First Lady for a change, though? Will be interesting to see, also I'm wondering what loser the "right" will put up against her. Who do they have at this point? The only people who'd have a prayer are Condi, Powel, or Michael Steele, which would be a dam ned interesting primary. A whole lot of rac ist whit e Republicans from the South esp. would probably switch and vote for Hillary! If the GOP isn't careful, it'll 'irrelevant' itself into political oblivion.

    January 27, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. joe

    Being secretary of state must be as difficult, if not more difficult, than being president in this crazy world. If Hillary could handle this assignment, she can handle anything. I hope she becomes our next president.

    January 27, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. bribarian

    "Thank you for covering up the Benghazi incident Hillary."

    January 27, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Mikey

    To JD: Buah knew he was lying regarding the "yellowcake" and Niger. Tenent told him not to put that in the speech before Congress. He knew the British had discounted it, and much of the information that we were using came from Mr. Chalibi, someone that was seriously less then credible, and who had his own agenda., Yes, Bush lied.

    January 27, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. Hillcrester

    The Dems have at least two very credible, experienced choices, if she chooses to run– although I suspect she will not. The GOP's Benghazi witch hunt has yielded nothing to discredit her, and some of the hostile questioners are backing away from their disreputable behavior, which only had made Sec. Clinton look better.

    January 27, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. Pete the Greek

    BRAVO Hilary. Job well done. Get your rest and see u in 2016 in your presidential bid. You got my vote! !!

    January 27, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Luis Gar

    To JD, do not remember all the false evidence Bush compiled and presented to congers. not to mention that Bush fired every single intelligence officer that contradicted his orders.
    To blake, same "Insanity" talking points. Good student.

    January 27, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Bob

    Republicans like dopes are sitll looking for some scandal in Libya. Sorry clowns, Hillary trashed you all in the hearings last week. Keep looking under all those rocks, that conspiracy you seek might show-up in a 1,000 years!

    January 27, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. justfakinit

    don't you worry hil.. i got your back... i have a whole slew of "executive privledge" orders in my desk..

    January 27, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. hal

    Hillcrester....who is the other credible choice....Biden......LOL!!

    January 27, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Ramon F. Herrera

    I had never heard so much praise for an active politician! The admiration for her is a real political asset.

    She is presidential material, and the Bengazi circus has only improved her stature.

    January 27, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Free thought

    Cover up for 4 murders and the president gives you a warm farewell. Seems legit enough. Doesn't it?

    January 27, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. lottie

    this shows unity and the president has been very gracious to the Clintons. His way of saying thanks for helping him with the election. He has also put Joe Biden front and center . I don't think it is an endorsement for either but a thanks to both.

    January 27, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. PM

    Hillary Clinton is a courageous lady. She deserves to be treated with resoect and appreciate her openness in dealing with foreign affairs. I will be very proud to see her as our next president of United States of America. and pray for her good health.

    January 27, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. lottie

    Hillary and Joe are both outstanding candidates for president . Both are smart and understand the country. Watched ryan and Mc Caine this morning neither have what it takes. Repos are hard pressed at this stage to offer up anyone suitable for the job.

    January 27, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Teresa

    I hope mrs. Clinton and joe biden run in 2016. We need a women as president it is time. I do not think the voters will her husbands lack off good judgement against her.

    January 27, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Drakenfly

    Hillary Clinton just committed Benghazicide on U.S. citizens because of her intentional inability to protect the embassy...

    January 27, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. mysimru

    God help us!!!

    January 27, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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