MANAMA (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton said Friday she would not run for president and her current job as secretary of state was probably her last public position and she would focus on women’s advocacy work after leaving office.
Clinton, who has repeatedly laughed off suggestions she might still want to take command of the White House, told an audience of Bahrain students that she was not contemplating a repeat run for president after losing to Barack Obama in 2008.
“No, I‘m not,” Clinton said. “I think I’ll serve as secretary of state as my last public position and then probably go back to advocacy work, particularly on behalf of women and children.”
It was the first time Clinton has spoken so directly about leaving public service, where she has been a dominant figure in Democratic circles for two decades.
Chatter about a possible second Clinton run at the presidency ramped up after the Democrats’ serious losses in the mid-term congressional elections, which were widely interpreted as a referendum on Obama’s first two years in office.
Clinton has also repeatedly been mentioned as a possible replacement for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has signaled his intention to step down sometime in 2011, although she has also said she is not interested in the job.
Clinton, who noted her public career had included stints as both U.S. first lady and senator from New York, said she had enjoyed all her work but particularly her early career working as a lawyer with a group that represented abused and neglected children and her efforts to champion greater rights for women.
“If you look at what is still happening to women in many parts of the world it is tragic and terrible,” Clinton said.
“I feel very lucky because of my parents and then my education, the opportunities that I’ve had, so I would like to continue working to improve lives for others.”
Clinton, who Obama brought in as secretary of state after their hard-fought contest for the 2008 Democratic nomination, noted that people were now being given the chance to constantly reinvent themselves -- something she has done repeatedly.
“Most of us will live longer than our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents ... We will have a chance to do different things in our life,” Clinton said, adding that the one thing she had learned was “it’s not so much what life throws at you, it’s how you respond.”
“I’ve had a life that’s been filled with all kinds of opportunities and my fair share of challenges but I‘m a very lucky person,” Clinton said.
Clinton said the now graying Obama was yet another example of how the White House takes its toll.
“Every president, if you watch what they look like when they come into office, you can see their hair turn white because it’s such a hard job.”
Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Jon Hemming