January 27th, 2013
03:27 PM ET
10 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. Sandy

    There is no other secretary of state who logged more miles or countries than she did. It is very stressful job. Her health will be fine and she will run for president, watch!

    January 27, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  2. bman

    Hillary personally screwed up so many things as secretary of state it's a disgrace. During her tenure we had the blossoming of the Arab spring Squelched by excessive support for the Egyptian military, aka status quo, when they needed to fall, and through all the ineffectual drama about Syria and the Soviets and China shame on them again and again... Finally topping it off with a stroke. Good riddance Ms. Roddham!

    January 27, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. cgs

    Obama and Hillary – two of the most lying, swarmy, despicable people I can think of.

    January 27, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  4. jane

    Get some rest Hillary...I'll be ready to vote for you in 2016

    January 27, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  5. Rocky

    Voting for President of the U.S. is not like winning a popularity contest. There are so many ignorant and uneducated people out there being bribed for their vote. Hillary Clinton has repeatedly lied and lied and lied about everything, especially Benghazi, coverup for murder of 4 people is the latest lie.

    January 27, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. NHop

    Hillary was a spectacular success as secretary of state and she'll be a spectacular success as president.

    January 27, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  7. Joyce

    i hope she does run in 2016. i can't think of any other woman who will be able to do it. but her health could be an issue. and by that time she'll be 69. it'll be rigorous not to mention all the challenges that a president will go through once elected. she is certainly very very smart, intelligent, highly qualified. i love it when she goes athena hilary, lol. she can certainly stand toe toe and hold her own. quite frankly, i don't see anyone – man or woman who can go up against her – at least at this point.

    January 27, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |

    She lied over the flag draped caskets of the ambassador and servicemen and then fake cried about it at the hearing. Is that was he's thanking her for?

    January 27, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  9. Clyde

    Hillary is as effective a diplomat as used toilet paper is to a man with diarrhea.

    January 27, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  10. Hugh Mann

    Yes She Can !!!
    but at 69 years old, will it be worth the effort?
    The world will still be screwed up and the US will still be spilling over with hate and vengeance, regardless.

    January 27, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  11. BeverlyNC

    Hlllary will alwasys be remembered as one of our greatest Secretary of States. She was sophisticated, diplomatic, caring, yet tough and taken seriously by foreign leaders. She brought great integrity back to the image of the U.S. Bush destroyed with his lies and fraud wars. I would love to see her run for President. She would be incredible. She knows foreign policy like no one else, has already been in the White House and seen how it really runs, has been a Senator, knows how Congress works, and is brilliant. She would be an unbeatable candidate for the Democrats and we could keep moving America forward with her leadership. Thanks Hillary – you were outstanding!

    January 27, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  12. USA

    Good Luck Hilly! Say Hi to Billy!

    January 27, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. bill davis

    Hillery and Bite me, out to be a good pair...

    Another day older and another day deeper in debt, can you buy me another vote...I do not want to go home...

    When the bill is bought to the table, the public will not want to pay for the meal...but then the other side is just a s bad...

    This lady the clock has ran out...

    January 27, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  14. Zandigra

    She worked hard, not doubt about it, but what major accomplishment can she point to as Sec. of State? Nothing really. It's sad that she had to work for a micro-manager who had ZERO foreign policy experience. I'm sure that must have been frustrating. On another note, I really would have like to have seen the 60 minutes interviewer ask Mrs. Clinton how her husband really feels about Barry Obama. LOL. Can't you just see the expression on Mrs. Clinton's face? She would have soiled her pants suit. LOL

    January 28, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  15. Barry

    If she decides to run the Rep's might just as well stay home...it we will be a total and complete wipeout of the GOP!!

    January 28, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  16. Joshua Farmer

    "She only stayed with Bill to further her career." Ask yourself this simple question: how do YOU know what she stayed with Bill for? You don"t. End of story.

    January 28, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  17. Shane

    Hillary 2016 . . . I'm there.

    January 28, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  18. BG

    Thanked her for???????????? What did she do? Anybody remember? Anybody care?

    January 28, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  19. Anders Behring Breivik (King of the Island)

    Did she smoke a cigar during the festivities?

    January 28, 2013 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  20. Donna

    I'm so proud of you Hillary and you would make an out standing president.

    January 28, 2013 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  21. J.V.Hodgson

    Its 4 years away and she would be 73? What is all this garbage about?
    neither her or Biden have said its on thier minds. In fact mostly the opposite to much to do meantime.
    Media stop trying to make stories/Air time out of inane questions.
    its permissibl to ask in 2014 after the house and senate elections till then ST.. need i finsh it off!?

    January 28, 2013 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  22. BlackDynamite

    If she ran, I don't see how another Democrat, or any GOP, can stop her from winning.

    She's far from the perfect candidate, but she has experience other candidates would only dream of. Women would come out in droves for her. But two years of national campaigning, and at least 4 more years running the show in the White House will be a lot for a senior citizen.

    The job is pretty much hers, if she wants it......

    January 28, 2013 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  23. Paul

    @ (sigh), I am sure would have said, had she divorced him, "She only divorced him to further her career? How is that admirable?".

    January 28, 2013 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  24. Beverley J

    I strongly think Hillary is a great candidate for the Democratic Party. I would be surprised if Monica Lewinsky's name even comes up at any event. That is old and stale news and what if any effect will that have on her? None, absolutely garbage now. People are more educated and willing to move past old news. We are talking about keeping it "the American dream" live and reachable for everyone to attain. If she decides to run – its a win, win for the democrats unless the GOP has a real candidate that speaks DNC language and trust me, they are all the same. Things and times has certainly change. Get with the flow GOP or you will see a Latino, another Black man or even a Jew get in that White House before another Republican gets to grace the chair again.

    January 28, 2013 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  25. necie5040

    I find it humorous that Republicans are on here whining about a "cover-up" when under your ill-minded presidents we have had SEVERAL cover-ups and none of the liars, thieves, and crooks have answered for anything. You folks are pathetic. It is only under Democratic president's that Republicans become moral authorities and want to clean up the system. Bush, Cheney and all their friends should be behind bars sucking on Popsicle sticks and bending over, and you folks have the nerve to talk about a cover-up....please.

    January 28, 2013 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
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