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Clinton Discusses Relationship With Obama

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By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 22, 2009; 9:40 AM

PHUKET, Thailand, July 22 -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that President Obama agreed to give her "an enormous amount of authority . . . really everything I asked for" before she agreed to take the job of chief U.S. diplomat.

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Clinton made the remarks during an expansive one-hour interview with Thai television in Bangkok before she flew to this resort island for a regional security forum. The interview with two energetic questioners took place before a live audience in a former king's palace built in 1909.

Clinton said she was "very surprised" when her former rival for the Democratic nomination asked her to become secretary of state. "He said, 'Look, I really need you and I believe that we can have a great relationship.' And we do. It's been everything I could have hoped for," Clinton said.

She added that her first response when Obama called her was to give him a list of names of people she thought "would be so much better. . . . But as you have seen watching on TV, he is very persuasive."

Speculation has risen in official Washington that Clinton has lost some of her luster and the State Department has been sidelined, with much of the foreign-policy power residing in the White House. But Clinton dismissed that, saying the rumors were the result of her reduced travel schedule after she broke her elbow in June.

"What happened is I broke my elbow. Very sad. I tripped and fell, but luckily I didn't hit my head. I hit my elbow and it broke in two," Clinton said. She then had to cancel plans to do a solo European trip and to join the president on another trip to Russia.

"I'm not with the president on the trip and all of sudden everyone said 'Ooooh . . . she's disappeared.' I'm thinking, gosh, I'm here, actually here."

Clinton said that from her own experience living in the White House as first lady, she understands that the president is always going to be the top policy-maker. "The president is the president. You know, I tried to be the president but I was not successful," she said to loud applause. "But I know -- the president is the president."

The questioners pressed Clinton on her run for the presidency and whether she still entertained the notion of running again.

"That's not anything I'm at all thinking about," she replied.

She was asked if she had ever given up hope, and she said: "I don't know, but I doubt very much that anything like that will ever be part of my life."

Is it wait and see? "No, no, no, no."

Finally, one questioner pressed, "Never say never," and Clinton seemed to shut the door.

"Well, I am saying no because I have a very committed attitude to the job I have and so that's not at all on my radar screen."

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