(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.
(Sigh): did it occur to you that she may have stayed because she loved him? There are dozens of reasons to stay with a spouse who has done wrong, just as there are plenty of reasons to leave. Only she really knows why she stayed – and it really isn't anyone else's business, either.
Thank you and get some rest... See ya 2016!
Hillary Clinton enjoy your time off, you deserve it. I second Obama about Mrs. Clinton.
What did she say at the Bengazi hearings where 4 Americans died. "Who cares?" We do you demented witch!
It's incomprehensible how Clinton is still touted as a presidential nominee after her tantrums before the senate committee where she admits she too, was trying to identify after the fact, what happened in the office she held.
The only reason Obama gave her the chance to become secretary of state is because she is Bills wife. He wanted to keep Bill Clinton under his wrap so that he can use him whenever he wanted… its win-win for both of them.. Amazing strategy by Obama. Bill Clinton still remains one of the most influential man in America.
Hillary did a excellent job for this great country, improved USA standing in the world during last four years. Wish her best of health and good time with family. Not to worry for 2016 for now. Hope Kerry continues same!.
She would make one of the best Presidents we'd ever have! Hillary Clinton is in a league of her own. Very dedicated to the United States. We need her in 2016. I hope she does it. She's have my vote in a NY minute!
She looks old and ugly during her testimony. She looks like saleswoman in market place and sale garage sale.
Besides winning a frequent flyer contest what was her signature achievement as Secertery of State?
SIGH.......can you think up some more cliche criticisms of her . we want more.....especially all the ones we have heard A MILLION TIMES?
The harm to America that came from Bill Clinton's dalliance is far far less than that which the republicans have done with their obstructionism.
"what difference does it make"?! There's a terrific post script to her time as Secretary of State, as well as the height of callousness towards the deaths of four brave Americans. Bravo, Hillary, bravo.
Whew! That Benghazi thingy was a close one. Thanks for covering for us, Hillary!
Clinton's departure as SOS is a loss for the USA. Hope she'll return as the President. Best to her – she deserves it. You know when a woman has been successful when all the Republicans on this site find it necessary to spew hatred toward her. Right wingers just HATE intelligent and successful woman.
I believe age should not be a factor for anyone wanting to reach a goal. But with her health problems, I fear the rigors of a campaign and the presidency would be too much for her. She would be wise to make a public contribution in a quieter, less demanding way.
Honorable president, Mrs.Clinton did a great job. Kick your feet up Mrs.Cee.
I'm going to miss you. Your great at what ever you do. Have a nice retirement and I hope to see you back running for president in 2016.
The woman has class, intelligence, skills, and real-world experience. Rest up Hillary, we're going to need you back in four years. Compare Secretary Clinton to the half-term Wasilla Hillbilly. Never mind, Mrs. Clinton is superior in every way. People who would even consider $ara Palin for higher office, shouldn't be eligible to vote. For those that can't see the glaring difference, there is no hope.
The results of her work won't be known for years to come. I am sure she visited many places and traveled a million miles. But was she effective as Secretary of State. Too early to tell. South Korea – not good Iran – not good relations with Russia not good. For the life of me, what is better? Call me ignorant but tell me what she did that was so fantastic! Sorry Hillary but when you didn't kick your womanizing husband out on his butt, I lost respect for you.
Hilary brings to her role a maturity, a selflessness, a wisdom born of real life experience, and yes a genuine humility that place her on a level far above that of her boss who manages to get by on the endless adulation of the main stream media.
Thats right obama you did the right thing to thank hillary, because hillary an bill clinton help you won the presiden sit.
He is grateful becasue she covered for him and took responsibility for the Banghazi affair. Should have gone to him.
MY prayers are with her in whatever course she wants to take. She would be a great president if she wants to be. God Bless.
She just testified that she does not like to be on Sunday news shows. Yet here she is. The lies continue!