October 26, 2012 12:39 AM
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama said Wednesday he would love for Hillary Clinton to stay on as secretary of state after his hoped-for re-election, but that “despite my begging” she has decided to move on.
“She has done an incredible job. She has logged a lot of miles; she has been working so hard,” Obama told viewers on NBC television’s “Tonight Show,” a popular, late-night comedy program.
Less than two weeks before the Nov. 6 vote that will determine whether he will win a second term in the White House, Obama heaped praise on Clinton, who four years ago was his bitter rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama ultimately won the nomination before defeating Republican nominee John McCain in the November 2008 election.
Clinton, the former first lady and one-time U.S. senator, has proven to be an invaluable asset to Obama’s administration over the past four years and is viewed as one of its most competent and popular players.
“She has done a great job. I would love for her to stay,” said Obama, adding however that he also understands why she is leaving.
“I suspect that it is time for her to spend a little bit more time with her family,” he said. “I could not be prouder of the work she has done.”
Clinton is widely viewed as having taken a bullet for her boss earlier this month when she assumed the blame for the administration’s clumsy handling of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Obama has come under fire from his critics over the assault during which heavily armed militants stormed the consulate compound and attacked an annex housing U.S. personnel on the 11th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States.
Obama’s Republican rival in the Nov. 6 vote, Mitt Romney, has accused the administration of giving a muddled response betraying a failed Middle East policy, while some Republican critics have gone so far as to allege a cover up.
Meanwhile Clinton’s husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who has been one of Obama’s most stalwart supporters on the campaign trail, gave a rousing speech in favor of the president during the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina last month.
That speech is credited with helping give Obama a sizable bump in the polls and a slight lead over Romney in the U.S. presidential race.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 26, 2012, on page 11.