A mutual admiration society, Obama, Hillary skip 2016 queries

Obama sought the joint interview telecast Sunday night on CBS`s "60 Minutes" as he "just wanted to have a chance to publicly say `thank you,`" to "one of the finest secretaries of state"

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2013, 15:20 PM IST

Washington: Barack Obama heaped praise on his outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the latter reciprocated generously as the rivals-turned-allies appeared for a rare joint interview, but none of them added any fodder to the talk over Clinton`s future political ambitions.

"I`m going to miss her," is how the President summed his sentiment, as Clinton prepares to leave the State Department after four years of a hectic term and incessant travel that has self-confessedly left her tired.

"It has been a great collaboration over the last four years.... I want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she`s played during the course of my administration and a lot of the successes we`ve had internationally because of her hard work," said a full of praise Obama.

He also lavished her with phrases like one of his "most important advisors" and said she "will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we`ve ever had" as the two appeared quite friendly, smiled and chuckled in between the talk on CBS`s `60 Minutes`.

"I just wanted to publicly have a chance to say thank you," Obama said when asked by the interviewer, why he wanted to appear with Clinton on the programme, a report in the Washington Post said.

"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," he said.

Clinton, on her part, said she had shared a "warm, close" relationship with Obama and "a sense of understanding that sometimes doesn`t take words", suggesting the two had come a long way since an acrimonious Democratic primary of 2008.

Obama, in fact, said that the rough 2008 election has helped forge a "strong" friendship between them even though the bitterness stayed for quite some time among their staffs and spouses.

As Clinton prepares to step aside from routine politics, at least for some time, and Obama enters his last term as president, there is much speculation in Washington about her potential plans for 2016.

And with mild indications from Vice president Joe Biden`s camp that he might be thinking of a bid for the Democratic nomination in 2016, the talk has gained more momentum.

"You guys in the press are incorrigible," Obama said when asked about 2016.

"I was literally inaugurated four days ago, and you are talking about elections four years from now," he said refusing to give away anything.

Clinton too kept it vague when she said she cannot predict

the future and the two literally laughed through the questions about 2016.

"I am still secretary of state. So I`m out of politics," Clinton said.

She added that neither Obama nor "I can make predictions about what`s going to happen tomorrow or the next year", leaving it an open-ended answer.

Clinton, who now makes way for John Kerry, however said she has recovered largely from the concussion she suffered last month, although she wore the glasses she did on Capitol Hill last week that correct the double vision she is still experiencing.