STATE DEPARTMENT —
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton steps down this week as America's top diplomat. While many wonder what she will do next, Clinton said she is not now considering another presidential campaign.
Questions about whether she will run for president again have followed Hillary Clinton throughout her tenure as President Barack Obama's secretary of state.
So during her last global town hall meeting as secretary of state, the question came from a German student, more of a plea than a question she admitted, that if elected president of the United States in 2016 Hillary Clinton would be an important symbol for women all over the world.
"Well, I am not thinking about anything like that right now. I am looking forward to finishing up my tenure as secretary of state, and then catching up on about 20 years of sleep deprivation," she said.
Advocating for women
Clinton does want to see more women compete for high office.
"It is up to me to make a decision on my own future. I right now am not inclined to do that. But I will do everything I can to make sure that women compete at the highest levels, not only in the United States but around the world," she said.
She said politicians have to break down attitudes that stereotype positions of power.
"Women are subjecting themselves to the political process, which is never easy anywhere. And I want to see more of that. You have to have a thick skin, I will tell you that. But it is really important that women are out there competing at the highest levels of government and business," said Clinton.
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After losing the 2008 Democratic Party nomination to Barack Obama, Clinton campaigned hard for his election and said she was surprised when he asked her to be his secretary of state.
Her first response was "no." But in an exit interview with the CBS News program 60 Minutes, she said she would have wanted Obama in her Cabinet if she were elected president, so she felt bound to say "yes."
Four-years later she leaves the State Department with her highest-ever public approval ratings, with near-universal name recognition, and with the gratitude of the president, for her own diplomacy and for her husband's 2012 campaigning on his behalf.
If the Obama administration ends well, Clinton benefits from having helped shape its foreign policy. If the Obama administration ends poorly, Clinton benefits from having gotten out when she did.
Similarly politically-parsed protestations of "no current interest" in running again have done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of Clinton boosters.
Supporters last week registered the "Ready for Hillary" political action committee at the Federal Election Commission. With 50,000 followers on Twitter, the group says it is ready to work for her "when she is ready to run," but has no official connection with any Clinton advisors.