Washington (CNN) – Former Secy. of State Henry Kissinger gave a very public nod Wednesday night to a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – saying that secretaries of state have a good track record of moving into the highest office in the land.
“At least four secretaries of state became president,” the foreign-born Kissinger joked during remarks at the annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington. “And that sort of started focusing my mind even though there was a constitutional provision that prevented me from doing it. I thought up all kinds of schemes to get around that.”
Then, adopting a more serious tone, he continued. “I want to tell Hillary that when she misses the office, when she looks at the histories of secretaries of state, there might be hope for a fulfilling life afterwards.”
Kissinger, himself a former secretary of state, was presenting Clinton with a Distinguished Leadership Award.
For her part, Clinton slipped a response to Kissinger’s 2016 joke into her prepared remarks.
“When I became secretary of state, I spent a lot of time thinking about my illustrious predecessors – not primarily the ones who went on to become president,” Clinton said to laughter. “But about the extraordinary generation of those leaders who were not just present at the creation but leading the creation of a liberal global order that provided unprecedented peace and prosperity along with progress on behalf of the values that we hold in common.”
She went on to speak about security and readiness for Atlantic nations in the coming years.
The Atlantic Council, a policy group of note in Washington, focuses primarily on promoting U.S. leadership and values in international affairs.
Organizers of the annual dinner say the awards aim to honor people who represent what they call the pillars of the transatlantic relationship: political, business, arts, and humanitarian leadership.
Others recipients included Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson, singer Tony Bennett, and musician and social activist Juanes.