Departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged “lingering effects” from a concussion and cerebral blood clot even as she said they are “decreasing” and “will disappear.”
Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, shared the national television spotlight yesterday with President Barack Obama, an erstwhile political rival for the office who used a joint interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program to praise Clinton’s influence in shaping his administration’s policies and thank her as a “strong friend.”
Obama also rebuffed criticism that under his presidency the U.S. has retreated from global leadership, saying that while he has been careful not to “shoot from the hip” in Syria, his administration has helped lay the groundwork for regime changes in Libya and Egypt.
The president suggested that the late Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, killed by Libyan rebels whose insurrection was aided by a North Atlantic Treaty Organization no-fly zone, “wouldn’t agree” with the criticism “if he was around.”
Obama sidestepped a question on whether his side-by-side appearance with Clinton was tantamount to an endorsement for a presidential candidacy with a reminder that he is only a few days into his second term, and Clinton declined to signal any political intentions.
“I don’t think, you know, either he or I can make predictions about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next year,” Clinton said.
Still, Clinton, 65, suggested the concussion and blood clot she sustained from a fall last month wouldn’t present a medical impediment. Her health gained new attention after she appeared at a congressional hearing last week wearing thick eyeglasses, which a State Department spokeswoman acknowledged that Clinton would be wearing for some time instead of contact lenses because of issues stemming from her concussion.
Clinton said her health is “great” and attributed the glasses to “lingering effects” from the fall. “The doctors tell me that that will all recede,” she said.
The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on the expected confirmation of Obama’s nominee to succeed Clinton as secretary of state, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004.
The interviewer, CBS News correspondent Steve Kroft, said it was Obama who suggested the joint appearance with Clinton on the program. The joint appearance and on-air compliments which Obama gave his departing Cabinet member strengthen Clinton’s claim to the legacy of both of the most recent Democratic presidents. She is married to former President Bill Clinton.
Obama said Clinton has been “one of the most important advisers” he has had “on a whole range of issues.”
The two offered echoes of their outlook on foreign policy.
Obama, who criticized predecessor President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war with Iraq, said a guiding principle of his administration has been to look for places “where our intervention, our engagement can really make a difference” and “to be opportunistic about that.”
Clinton said she remained mindful of the measured approach of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.
“You’ve got to be careful,” Clinton said. “You have to be thoughtful. You can’t rush in, especially now, where it’s more complex than it’s been in decades.”