(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.
"Bengazi cover up"...She nor the president handle security..They should talk to people in charge of that, they are responsible for what happened..
It's a regular lovefest, can we see a trend?
of course he should thank her. He owes the re-election to the Clintons. And perhaps Hillary's many years of 'tea-drinking with first ladies and ambassadors' proved to be useful to Mr. Obama's presidency.
Cover up... Cover up... Cover up...
One million miles of time in the air. That is incredible to me... though there are undoubtedly people with more. And 112 countries. I can't even NAME that many countries...
my personal opinion would b that hiliary would do a fantatic job az president altho i would love for her to b well rested n maintain her health in which im sure she will otha than that god bless her n her family which ever direction she chose to go my prayers will b with her
Great job, Hillary. I hope you come back to run for president in 2016.
I don't get it... She only stayed with Bill to further her career. How is that admirable?
He SHOULD thank her. She took the heat for him more than once! And her husband MADE his convention worth something!
"I believe everything that I read on the Internet and see on the news. I don't question anything. Thinking for myself confuses and frightens me."
– supporters of Hillary Clinton over Benghazi
i'm here crying for her to do it she is a fighter and will always be. so i say to her pls do it for us all
exit interview went something like this: Hilary: I'll keep your secrets you give me your support in 2016. Obama: wasn't that gift basket I gave you on secretary's day enough?
President Obama uses the words "take it easy for a little bit".... ah yes indeed the best of Mrs. Clinton is still yet to come... xxoo Canada
Hillary '16.......or else say hi to President Christie.....in my opinion....
Good they appear on 60mins together as they will go down in history as two of the most deceitful and slippery characters to hold national office since Nixon.
Good riddance Clinton and may Obama soon join you.
She is more of a woman than Bill is a man. He is damn lucky to have her!
Thank you, Secretary Clinton, Senator Clinton, and First lady Clinton. I hope in four years I can say, thank you President Clinton. And thank you, President Obama.
She should run, she would help sweep the elections. It would encourage Women Voters to get out there and make a difference. Stop the gridlock. Stop the GOP from continuing the War on Women. We need to make children a priority. We need to get young Voters out there. The 2014 election has to start now with registering as many Democrats as humanly possible. I know how to stop the gridlock in Washington. Throw the do nothing GOP out of Congress.
iIf Democrats want to win in 2016, they better come up with better candidates than Hillary or Joe Biden. For starters, they'll both be way over the hill.
That is what a cynic would say, but looking at all the good work Hillary has done over the last few years I believe her to be much more honorable than that. Hillary is with Bill Clinton because she loves him, and she could and would have done great things regardless of whether or not they stayed together.
She was the only Dem I would have voted for in 2008 but she sold her soul and integrity to Brand Obama so I hope she goes and never returns.
Thank Hillary Clinton by making sure the glass ceiling is shattered in 2016. Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.
To you delusional right-wingers, it's only a "cover up" in the reality-free bubble you knuckle-draggers dwell in. The GOP and radical conservatism is dead. Get used to it.
Qoute from hillary clinton. Who cares what happen bengazi! If it was a rebuplican in office they would have them for treason for lying and covering up! Fast and the furious and been rep he would have been fired and charges brought against him for selling automatic weapons to drug cartels and mexican gangs! Its amazing the first black president and he goes against what everything is american and running this country in the ground lying covering up and going against what the majority of what americans want and in 4 years unemployment higher debt higher supporting known terriost groups like muslim brotherhood! But lets do what the dems do its not his fault its someone elses fault i shouldnt have to take responsbilty because im the first black president and im special. Look what hitler did youth programs gun control depending on the govt. And obamas doing the same but the libreals will say ure being parinoid until its to late and affects them!generals being replaced with his beliefs ones who will fire on americn