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Obama, Clinton laud one another in interview

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 27, 2013

As she exits the political world, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sat down for an interview with President Obama, the man who bested her in the 2008 Democratic primary election en route to the White House.

But the "60 Minutes" session, filmed on Friday at Mr.Obama's suggestion and aired on Sunday night, was mostly an opportunity for the duo to praise each other, and to relive in a nostalgic tone the testy campaign of five years ago.

Talk of global turmoil and controversial domestic issues was rare and pitched softly by usually tough "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft.

Howard Kurtz of the Daily Beast dryly noted on his Twitter feed: "It was 7:17 when Steve Kroft asked his first issue question: What's been your biggest foreign policy success?"

Mr. Obama was not asked about immigration reform, gun control or fiscal issues. There was only passing mention of Iraq, Afghanistan and al Qaeda.

Mrs. Clinton briefly discussed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, repeating much of what she told Congress last week.

"I deeply regret what happened ... but I also have looked back and tried to figure out what we could do so nobody, as far as is possible, would be in this position again," Mrs. Clinton said of the death of Libyan Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans who were killed in the attack.

In her testimony earlier this week, Mrs. Clinton angrily dismissed questions about the circumstances of the attack with "what difference at this point does it make?"

When the violence in Syria came up, Mr. Obama said his administration will continue to act deliberately and not "leap before we look."

"We do nobody a service ... when we take on things before think through all of the consequences," he said.

The interview largely consisted of Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton explaining how they've been able to work together over the past four years. Mrs. Clinton said she accepted the job as secretary of state because, had she been elected president in 2008, she would've wanted Mr. Obama on her team.

"If the roles had been reversed and I had ended up winning, I would've desperately wanted him to be in my Cabinet," she said. "How am I going to justify saying no to my president?"

As she leaves her post and makes way for her likely replacement, Sen. John Kerry, Mrs. Clinton is being showered with praise from the president and many others.

"I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you," Mr. Obama said as his reason for suggesting and agreeing to the joint interview, the only one he has given as president alongside anyone except first lady Michelle Obama.

"I think Hillary will go down as one the finest secretaries of state we've had. I'm going to miss her. I wish she was sticking around."

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