Clinton Hints She Could Stay on at State Dept.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 25 2012 10:13 AM

Hillary Clinton Leaves Door Open Ever-So-Slightly To Stay on as Secretary of State

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Hillary Clinton answers a question during a joint press conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Hillary Clinton may stay on the "high wire of American politics" for a little longer than she planned.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The secretary of state had been saying for months that she would leave the high-stress job at the end of this term, regardless of whether President Obama wins reelection. She told State employees back in January that "after 20 years, and it will be 20 years, of being on the high wire of American politics and all of the challenges that come with that, it would probably be a good idea to just find out how tired I am."

But in the wake of the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, Clinton is at least leaving the door open on the idea that she could stick around a little longer. The Wall Street Journal:

Mrs. Clinton long has said she would leave the job after one term. Now, however, in a sign of how much the tragedy has shaken her final days, she indicated in an interview that she may be willing to stay a bit longer. "A lot of people have talked to me about staying," Mrs. Clinton said, declining to be more specific. When asked if current events will force her departure date to slip, she said it was "unlikely," but for the first time left open that possibility for the short term.
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As the Journal points out, Clinton's suggestion could be a boon to her boss's chances of reelection both by offering a sense of stability at a time of unrest abroad and because of her strong appeal to women voters. But she also may be interested in sticking around to ensure that she gets a say in how the final Benghazi narrative is written. While she was largely praised by both sides of the aisle for stepping forward to take responsibility for what happened at the U.S. mission, her still popular image would no doubt be well-served if her largely successful tenure as secretary ended on a slightly higher note.

And, because no post about Clinton is complete without the inevitable 2016 speculation:

"I have ruled it out," Mrs. Clinton says of a presidential bid, in the living room of her State Department office. "It's important for me to step off this incredibly high wire I've been on," she says, "to take stock of the rest of my life." Nevertheless, there is widespread assumption within the party that she can be persuaded to run. And in language that Democrats might perceive as an opening, Mrs. Clinton adds: "I will always want to be in service to my country."