President Barack Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a rare joint interview for CBS’ 60 Minutes, fanning the flames of expectations that she is going to run for his job in four years.
The interview was something of a staged photo opportunity, as no news was actually broken except for the fact that the President considers Hillary Clinton “a strong friend” and she described their relationship as “very warm, close”.
More than anything, their relaxed attitudes, clear friendship, and grinning smiles show that time has healed the markedly harsh wounds that they endured 5 years ago when they faced off in the Democratic primary leading up to the 2008 election.
The fact that Hillary Clinton was initially hesitant to take the post as Secretary of State- so much so that she avoided his phone calls and he did the same when she was ringing him back to turn down the offer- has already been widely reported, but now the pair explained how they worked to improve their bond.
“What did evolve was a friendship, as opposed to just a professional relationship,” Barack Obama told 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft.
“Friendships involve a sense of trust and being in the foxhole together. And that emerged during the course of months when we were making some very tough decisions.”
Hillary Clinton agreed, saying that their frosty rivalry began to thaw after she conceded and started stumping for him during the general election.
“He is pretty persuasive, I’ll tell you that much,” she said, smiling.
“If the roles had been revered and I had ended up winning I would have desperately wanted him to be in my cabinet.”
The prospect of Hillary Clinton forming her own cabinet is certainly not a joke, as she is widely seen as one of, if not the, leading contender for her party’s nomination when Barack Obama leaves office after his second term.
The issue of 2016 is a tricky one for the President; however, as recent activity has led to increased chatter about his Vice President Joe Biden potentially seeking the top spot during the next goes around.
Though such a head-to-head would put Barack Obama in a tough spot- as he would effectively be forced to choose between his two-term Vice President and his extremely popular former Secretary of State, he tried to brush off the issue with incredulous concern.
“You guys in the press are incorrigible; I was literally inaugurated four days ago, and you’re talking about elections four years from now,” he said.
When Steve Kroft made a reference to whether or not viewers could “read the tea leaves” from the interview in terms of predicting the next election, Hillary Clinton jokingly looked around the room, saying: “We don’t have any tea, we’ve got some water here the best I can tell.”
In terms of her positioning, the happy duo appeared to be pegging Hillary Clinton as one-in-the-same as the sitting President, boasting about how they share an almost telepathic connection.
“I think there’s a sense of understanding sometimes it doesn’t even take words,” Hillary Clinton said.
“It made for tough debates because we could never figure out what we differed on,” Barack Obama said of their attempts to differentiate themselves from one another during the primary.
“Well the main thing is I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you because I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State we’ve had, It has been a great collaboration over the last four years,” Barack Obama said when he started out the interview.
“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, but I want the country to appreciate what an extraordinary role she’s played during the course of my administration and a lot of the successes we’ve had internationally have been because of her hard work.”