It doesn't matter how many times Hillary Clinton says she won't make another bid for the White House in 2016. There is always someone that a) doesn't believe her b) hopes she will change her mind or c) wants to prevent her from running.
In an interview with Marie Claire magazine, published Thursday, Clinton insists she's done with politics for good. When asked by writer Ayalet Waldman if she will run again for president, she laughed.
"No, I'm not," she said.
"Why not?" Waldman asked. "Everybody wants you to."
"I have been on this high wire of national and international politics and leadership for 20 years," Clinton said. "It has been an absolutely extraordinary personal honor and experience. But I really want to just have my own time back. I want to just be my own person. I'm looking forward to that."
Clinton said she hoped to see the day when Americans elect a woman as president.
"That would be a great experience for me, to be up there cheering," she said.
Yet Google the phrase "Hillary Clinton for President" and "2016" and you get no less that 4 million hits, including a couple 'Hillary for 2016' Facebook pages. And even if she means what she says, her supporters are hoping after she recharges her batteries after her term as Secretary of State ends, Hillary's political juices will start flowing again. After all, this is a woman who told me in an interview in February that politics was in her DNA.
Although a polarizing political figure before taking the job as secretary of state , Clinton has been immune to the kind of criticism her predecessors have faced for most of her tenure. She remains the most popular member of the Obama administration, and indeed one of the most popular people in the world.
But could the brutal attack on the US diplomatic post in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, threaten to put a cast over Clinton's shining star?
In a CNN interview this week, Clinton tried to end the political firestorm over the attack, which has quickly become an issue in the presidential campaign and made President Obama vulnerable.
"I take responsibility," Clinton told me. "I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."
Although the main target of Republican attacks have been directed at President Obama, I asked Secretary Clinton whether there was a not-so-subtle effort to quash her chances for 2016.
"That is just so far from anything that anybody should be thinking about," Clinton said.
Clinton has had a loyal cadre of staff that she has either known for years or who have worked with her since she was first lady, which is known collectively as "Hillaryland."
Last summer Anne-Marie Slaughter, Clinton's former director of policy planning, caused a stir among the State Department ranks when she wrote a controversial cover story in The Atlantic, entitled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," about why she felt an obligation to quit Clinton's staff because she found "juggling high-level governmental work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible."
Once the dean of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, she is now back at Princeton as a professor.
When asked by Marie Claire about the piece, Clinton didn't hold back, pointing out that she spent her life advocating on behalf of women and tried to make work places, including the State Department, friendlier to women with children.
As the article points out, Clinton said that Slaughter's problems were her own. Quoting from the magazine's text:
"'Some women are not comfortable working at the pace and intensity you have to work at in these jobs ... Other women don't break a sweat. They have four or five, six kids. They're highly organized, they have very supportive networks.' By all accounts, this was precisely the kind of mother Clinton was to Chelsea-hands-on, prioritizing her child, and yet ever committed to work."
"Clinton has very little patience for those whose privilege offers them a myriad of choices but who fail to take advantage of them. 'I can't stand whining,' she says. 'I can't stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they're not happy with the choices they've made. You live in a time when there are endless choices ... Money certainly helps, and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don't even have to have money for it. But you have to work on yourself ... Do something!'"