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Will Hillary Clinton stay on as secretary of state?
The eminently intriguing Democrat inspires a flurry of speculation after vaguely raising the possibility that she might stick around after all
 
Hillary Clinton is suddenly dropping hints that she might be a member of a second-term Obama cabinet, after all.
Hillary Clinton is suddenly dropping hints that she might be a member of a second-term Obama cabinet, after all.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

For months, Hillary Clinton has been crystal clear that she will step down as secretary of state if President Obama wins another term. But she just muddied the waters a little in an interview with Monica Langley at The Wall Street Journal, saying it was merely "unlikely" (rather than, say, out of the question) that she would stay on after 2012. "A lot of people have asked me about staying," Clinton added. Obama himself told Jay Leno this week that he would be disappointed to see her leave "despite my begging." So what's behind Clinton's (possible) change of heart? The terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, says Langley:

Just weeks ago, Hillary Clinton was poised to glide out of office as secretary of state with job-approval ratings near 70 percent and a political buzz suggesting she is already the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate to beat…

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.

Indeed, Clinton "faces the possibility that her legacy will be marred by the attacks in Benghazi and questions about diplomatic security," says Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. Staying on to guide America's response to the Arab Spring could make up for what Clinton described as "one of the most challenging" periods of her tenure.

Clinton also reiterated for the umpteenth time that she would not run for president in 2016. "It's important for me to step off this incredibly high wire I've been on," she told Langley, "to take stock of the rest of my life." However, she added that she would "always want to be in service to my country." Is a 2016 presidential run a possibility as well? "Either she's 'signaling that she's open to being drafted into the presidential race in four years," says Margaret Hartmann at New York, "or she's planning to volunteer at a soup kitchen during her retirement."

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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