Clinton Leaving ‘Very Fast Track for a Little While’

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have fueled speculation about her future political ambitions by saying she’s getting “off the very fast track for a little while.”

Clinton has said she plans to rest and then serve as an advocate for women and children. That hasn’t stopped some of her fellow Democrats as well as Republicans such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich from predicting she may run for president in 2016.

Asked during an event today at the State Department about her approaching “retirement” as secretary of state, Clinton said, “I don’t know if that is a word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while.”

The event with departing U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney was Clinton’s first public appearance since she was sidelined by health problems last month. She said she was “thrilled to be back.”

“I am also incredibly grateful for this fabulous team that I have here at the State Department who never missed a beat during the time I was away,” she said. “We are focused on continuing our work, finishing up everything that we can and helping Senator Kerry with his transition.”

President Barack Obama has chosen Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to succeed Clinton.

Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator and presidential candidate, is one of the world’s best-known figures and ranks in polls as the early Democratic favorite for president in 2016 if she chooses to run again. In a Gallup poll of Americans released Dec. 31, she ranked as the most-admired woman in the world for the 11th consecutive year.