In this Jan. 25, 2013 file image taken from video and provided by CBS, President Barack Obama, center, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speak with 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, left, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo: AP)
President Barack Obama is praising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "discipline, stamina, thoughtfulness, and ability to project" as she prepares to leave his Cabinet.
In a rare joint interview airing Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes, Obama said:
“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. I'm going to miss her -- wish she was sticking around, but she has logged so many miles I can't begrudge her wanting to take it easy for a little bit.
"But I want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she's played during the course of my administration. A lot of the successes we've had internationally have been because of her hard work."
The duo's joint interview is likely to stoke speculation that Obama may prefer Clinton to succeed him in the White House after the 2016 elections, but neither said anything concrete on the issue.
"You guys in the press are incorrigible," Obama scolded. "I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you're talking about elections four years from now."
President Obama said one of the main reasons he chose Clinton was because she already had international recognition, and he knew he would have to spend significant time at home dealing with the crisis he "inherited." Clinton related:
"The one thing he did mention was he basically said: `You know, we've got this major economic crisis that may push us into a depression. I'm not going to be able to do a lot to satisfy the built-up expectations for our role around the world. So you're going to have to get out there and, you know, really represent us while I deal with, you know, the economic catastrophe I inherited."
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton recently testified on the September 11 attack on an American outpost in Libya that killed four Americans. However, the interview did not focus on international crises.
"There are transitions and transformations taking place all around the world. We are not going to be able to control every aspect of every transition and transformation," Obama said. "Sometimes, you know, there will be unintended consequences."
However, when confronted with the criticism that the U.S. has not intervened in Syria, President Obama cited his administration's "leadership" in Egypt, saying "you might have seen a different outcome" in our absence.
The two joked about the 2008 campaign before saying how much the past four years has changed their relationship.
"Are there going to be differences? Yeah. Deep differences? Of course," Clinton said. "You had a lot of strong-willed, -minded people. But the president deserves our best judgment, our advice and then he deserves us to stand with him and to execute."
Here is part 1 of the interview:
And part 2, which focuses more on foreign policy:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.