Hillary Clinton has turned brushing off speculation about whether or not she'll run for office into an art form, and on Sunday night she brought President Obama along for her latest less than Shermanesque denial. At the suggestion of President Obama, 60 Minutes interviewed Obama and Clinton together, focusing mainly on their close friendship and the foreign policy achievements of the past four years. Obama said that he just wanted "a chance to publicly say thank you," but it definitely looked like Clinton was collecting an early videotaped endorsement from the president.
Yet, when Steve Kroft hinted at the obvious, the president laughed and suggested the press is ridiculous for speculating about Clinton's political future just because they volunteered to do a highly unusual joint interview. "Steve, I gotta tell you, the — you guys in the press are incorrigible," said Obama. "I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you're talking about elections four years from now."
The pair agreed that four years ago, this moment would have seemed "improbable," but they downplayed their once bitter rivalry. Clinton said that after she dropped out of the race, she immediately did everything she could to get Obama elected because "despite our hard-fought primary, we had such agreement on what needed to be done for our country." President Obama suggested that their similarity is what made the debates so tough, and Clinton agreed. "We could never figure out what we were different on. Yeah, we worked at that pretty hard," she said.
The president painted a rosy picture of their transition from political enemies to bosom buddies, claiming that the staffers were far more affected by the nastiness of the primaries than they were. "You know, we've both built some pretty thick skins," said Obama. "Hillary, I suspect, you know, handles this the same way I do, you know? We kind of have a block — a screen from a lot of the silliness that happens during presidential campaigns." Clinton said that while she hesitated to accept Obama's offer to be secretary of State, she changed her mind after putting herself in his shoes:
I'll tell you what I finally thought. I thought, "You know, if the roles had been reversed, and I had ended up winning, I would have desperately wanted him to be in my cabinet. So if I'm saying I would have wanted him to say yes to me, how am I going to justify saying no to my president?" And it was a great decision, despite my hesitancy about it.
Clinton and Obama were chuckling and finishing each other's sentences throughout the interview. When asked to described their current relationship, he answered, "I consider Hillary a strong friend," and she said, "Very warm, close. I think there's a sense of understanding that, you know, sometimes doesn't even take words because we have similar views." And just like the president, Clinton laughed off the inevitable question about a potential run in 2016:
As you know, Steve, I am still secretary of State. So I'm out of politics. And I'm forbidden from even hearing these questions. I think that, you know, look, obviously the president and I care deeply about what's going to happen for our country in the future. And I don't think, you know, either he or I can make predictions about what's going to happen tomorrow or the next year. What we've tried to do over the last four years is get up every day, have a clear-eyed view of what's going on in the world. And I'm really proud of where we are.
It's interesting that unlike most of Clinton's recent statements on the issue, there wasn't actually a "no" in there. And yes, we are simply incorrigible.