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Sunday, January 27, 2013 - 5:06pm
(CNN) — President Barack Obama said Hillary Clinton will go down "as one of the finest secretaries of state" as he sat next to her in their first joint interview, which airs Sunday night on CBS's "60 Minutes."
"The main thing is I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say 'thank you,'" he said when asked why he wanted to do the interview with his former political foe. The network released an excerpt of the taped exchange ahead of time.
"It has been a great collaboration over the last four years," he continued. "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."
Nearly 1 million miles and 112 countries, in fact, she said Wednesday when she appeared before congressional committees to testify about last year's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
"Every time that blue and white airplane carrying the words 'United States of America' touches down in some far-off capital, I feel again the honor it is to represent the world's indispensible nation," she said on Capitol Hill.
Clinton also appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week to give remarks in support of Sen. John Kerry, the president's nominee to replace Clinton. The current secretary of state announced in March 2011 that she would not pursue a second term as the nation's top diplomat.
While Clinton and Obama competed bitterly in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, the two have been highly complimentary of each other during the president's first term. In the interview that airs Sunday, Clinton said such a public sit-down would have been "improbable" a few years ago because "we had that very long, hard primary campaign."
"But, you know, I've gone around the world on behalf of the president and our country, and one of the things that I say to people -- because I think it helps them understand -- I say, look, in politics and in democracy, sometimes you win elections and sometimes you lose elections. And I worked very hard, but I lost. And then President Obama asked me to be secretary of state, and I said yes. And why did he ask me, and why did I say yes? Because we both love our country."
Not only has Hillary Clinton played a big role in Obama's first four years of office, but her husband and former President Bill Clinton also was a crucial part of Obama's re-election bid last year. The 42nd president appeared on the stump for Obama in key swing states and had a prime-time speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention.
Hillary Clinton will likely be asked about a potential White House bid in 2016. While she has so far said that another run isn't in the works for her, some speculate that both Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden could both wind up in the Democratic primary, a situation that would put Obama in a tough spot politically.
As a former popular first lady, U.S. senator and now secretary of state, experts say Clinton is well-positioned to be the Democratic frontrunner. But presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said much of her decision will largely depend on her health.
"She needs rest. She's exhausted," he said Sunday on CNN's Newsroom. Clinton returned to work earlier this month after being treated for illness, a concussion and blood clot near her brain. "She needs to work on a memoir, she'll probably give speeches. At that point, in about 18 months or two years, they have a big decision to make."
Brinkley described her as "somebody who does not lack ambition" and will be highly influenced by the "ability to break the glass ceiling and be the first female president."
"The question is whether she's up for the exhaustion of going to the Iowa caucus, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and having (Monica) Lewinsky and other issues from the '90s come back and haunt her in some ways," Brinkley said. "Does she have that fight in her?"