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NBC's Savannah Guthrie Gushes Over 'Tireless' Hillary Clinton's 'Blunt Talk and Personal Charm'

In an interview light on substance and heavy on praise with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aired on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Savannah Guthrie fawned: "Hillary Clinton of course is known for keeping a tireless pace....[her] approach is a combination of blunt talk, personal charm and above all, frequent-flyer diplomacy."

Later, Guthrie sympathetically informed viewers: "She has flown more than 600,000 miles on this government plane, a flying satellite office where she can reach world leaders at a moment's notice or hone her most necessary diplomatic skill, the ability to nap on command....I saw your cabin. For those who think this may be glamorous work, it's a pull-out couch....And there's not a hair and makeup team waiting on board."

Guthrie lobbed one softball after another, beginning with: "What's the one thing you want to be able to point to and have people be able to say, 'Hillary Clinton left it better than she found it'?" To which Clinton replied: "That despite very difficult circumstances when President Obama and I started our jobs, we have reasserted American leadership."

Noting Clinton's history as a divisive political figure, Guthrie cheered: "What's surprising is how the woman who was once so polarizing...is now so popular, Gallup's most admired woman in America nine years running." Guthrie wondered: "What do think people know about you now that they didn't know then?" Clinton argued: "I think because I've been on the public consciousness for so long and on the television screens in people's homes, I think there's a comfort."

Turning to Clinton's political future, Guthrie asked: "Will you run for president in 2016?" After Clinton rejected the idea, Guthrie pleaded: "But Secretary Clinton, politics is in your blood. People will not believe that you are closing the door and locking it on running for office ever again."

Just prior to that discussion, Guthrie suggested a new generation of Clinton political involvement: "One title I know you seek to have one of these days is grandmother....But I noticed Chelsea has been doing more events. We saw her a couple weeks ago doing an event with you. Do you think she has the Clinton bug for politics?"

Following the taped interview, Guthrie remarked to co-host Ann Curry: "And the sense among insiders is that Clinton really means it. She's done with public office. But they also believe that if the party came calling in 2016 it may be very difficult for her to say no."

Guthrie did ask Clinton if becoming a member of the Obama administration after the contentious 2008 Democratic primary was "awkward." Clinton declared: "...of course, because we had had a hard-fought election....But he asked me to serve our country and him in his administration. Why? Because we both love our country. So I said yes. Because at the end of the day, we have to be bigger than politics."

Later, Curry picked up on that sentiment and announced: "...whatever your politics, I think a lot of Americans would embrace the idea of being bigger than politics. And I think certainly in the times that we're in now, we wish that everyone would sort of embrace that idea."

In response, Guthrie revealed another comment from Clinton: "She says the fact that President Obama picked her to serve in his cabinet in that key position has such an impact around the world. People just can't believe that two arch political rivals then ultimately became allies. She says it shows the best of America."

Here is a full transcript of the interview aired on the October 17:

7:39AM ET SEGMENT:

ANN CURRY: Back now at 7:39 with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the life and hectic schedule of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Savannah Guthrie recently caught up with her. Hey, Savannah, good morning.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning to you, Ann. And Hillary Clinton of course is known for keeping a tireless pace. She's on track already to be the most traveled secretary of state ever. But at age 63 she's getting ready to make a change, making it clear she will leave this position at the end of the President's first term.

HILLARY CLINTON: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: From the moment she walks into the State Department headquarters, Hillary Clinton is perpetually in motion. A frenzy of photo-ops, phone calls, staff meetings, speeches, and the obligations of office.

CLINTON: And for that, I thank you.

GUTHRIE: All before lunch.

CLINTON: You have the best clothes.

GUTHRIE: But after nearly three years, Hillary Clinton can see the horizon. What's the one thing you want to be able to point to and have people be able to say, "Hillary Clinton left it better than she found it"?

CLINTON: That despite very difficult circumstances when President Obama and I started our jobs, we have reasserted American leadership. We are going to lead despite other countries coming to the forefront. We are going to lead because America is destined to lead.

GUTHRIE: Her tenure has seen a dramatic reordering of world power. And hanging over it all, a global economic crisis. Do world leaders see an America that's in decline?

CLINTON: Well, if they do, they're badly mistaken. We do have to get our own house in order – our economic house, our political house – but at the same time, we cannot abdicate leadership around the world because when we do it does come back to bite us.

GUTHRIE: Around the world, Clinton's approach is a combination of blunt talk...

CLINTON: Those nations are standing on the wrong side of history.

GUTHRIE: ...personal charm...

CLINTON: I hope we get one good picture out of this.

GUTHRIE: ...and above all, frequent-flyer diplomacy. Another day at the office, huh?

CLINTON: So to speak.

GUTHRIE: She has flown more than 600,000 miles on this government plane, a flying satellite office where she can reach world leaders at a moment's notice or hone her most necessary diplomatic skill, the ability to nap on command.

CLINTON: A lot of people can't, but I can pass out nearly anywhere.

GUTHRIE: Let's get practical a second here. I mean, I saw your cabin. For those who think this may be glamorous work, it's a pull-out couch.

CLINTON: Right, right.

GUTHRIE: And there's not a hair and makeup team waiting on board.

CLINTON: Oh, no. No – well, that should be obvious when I get off the plane in the middle of the night. You know, I'm always worried I'll scare the children.

GUTHRIE: In Washington, she has become a force in her own right. At the White House several times a week, it's easy to forget how bitter and hard fought the 2008 campaign was.

CLINTON: Shame on you, Barack Obama.

GUTHRIE: You have to be honest, though. There – it was certainly awkward at first, wasn't it?

CLINTON: Well, Savannah, of course, because we had had a hard-fought election and I wanted to beat him and he ended up beating me. But he asked me to serve our country and him in his administration. Why? Because we both love our country. So I said yes. Because at the end of the day, we have to be bigger than politics.

GUTHRIE: Do you think you are in the inner circle?

CLINTON: I think on the issues that I work on, in the national security arena, absolutely.

GUTHRIE: Does he ever ask you for political advice?

CLINTON: Oh, every so often, but I keep that to myself.

GUTHRIE: But as the President's political troubles have mounted, some Democrats have wondered out loud if it should have been Hillary after all. That's got to feel good. It can't feel bad?

CLINTON: You know what? It feels irrelevant to me. Because a decision was made. I think the President has done an excellent job under the most difficult circumstances.

GUTHRIE: Well, Dick Cheney thought you would do a good job. Do you feel vindicated?

CLINTON: No. Look, I feel – maybe because I have been at this and do have 20 years of work behind me – I feel like this is all predictable. That we're living in times that are hard to navigate. We need leadership that's willing to make hard decisions and I think the President has done that.

GUTHRIE: What's surprising is how the woman who was once so polarizing...

CLINTON: I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette....I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas....This vast right-wing conspiracy.

GUTHRIE: ...is now so popular, Gallup's most admired woman in America nine years running. A change in public fortune that's not lost on her. What do think people know about you now that they didn't know then?

CLINTON: I think because I've been on the public consciousness for so long and on the television screens in people's homes, I think there's a comfort.

GUTHRIE: They got used to you?

CLINTON: Yeah, kind of, you know, 'Oh, it's her again.'

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The next President of the United States, Bill Clinton!

GUTHRIE: It was 20 years ago this month her husband announced his presidential candidacy in Little Rock, two decades of a life lived in public. Her ups, her downs and, yes, her doos. Now Clinton seems ready to step out of the spotlight. What do you think life will be like when, after 20 years in politics, it'll be you and the former president at home, sitting around?

CLINTON: I can't wait. I can't wait. I mean, obviously we're going to be very active. But it is something that I'm really looking forward to enjoying. When I get to go home on the weekends, which is not often enough, it's just great to be doing as little as possible. And I think, you know, after this 20 years, that'll be very welcome.

GUTHRIE: One title I know you seek to have one of these days is grandmother.

CLINTON: Yes. You figured that out.

GUTHRIE: But I noticed Chelsea has been doing more events. We saw her a couple weeks ago doing an event with you. Do you think she has the Clinton bug for politics?

CLINTON: I don't know. I don't have any reason to believe that. I think she does have the public service bug. That seems to be in our DNA.

GUTHRIE: Will you run for president in 2016?

CLINTON: No, no. You know, Savannah, I'm very privileged to have had the opportunities to serve my country. And I'm really old-fashioned. I feel I've made my contribution. I've done the best I can. But now, you know, I want to try some other things. I want to get back to writing and maybe some teaching, working on women and girls around the world.

GUTHRIE: But Secretary Clinton, politics is in your blood. People will not believe that you are closing the door and locking it on running for office ever again.

CLINTON: Well, you know, they'll have to just watch and wait. I have made my contribution. I'm very grateful I've had a chance to serve. But I think it's time, you know, for others to step up.

GUTHRIE: And the sense among insiders is that Clinton really means it. She's done with public office. But they also believe that if the party came calling in 2016 it may be very difficult for her to say no. And Ann, talk about a day in the life of Hillary Clinton. Did you see this video over the weekend?

CURRY: Yes, I did. Unbelievable.

GUTHRIE: This was a tribute event for Bill Clinton's birthday. And there's Lady Gaga singing a version of "Bad Romance," which she called "Bill Romance." And it looks like the former First Lady and President laughed at this spectacle, shall we say?

CURRY: Yes, definitely a spectacle in many regards there. But you know, in – but her comment, whatever your politics, I think a lot of Americans would embrace the idea of being bigger than politics. And I think certainly in the times that we're in now, we wish that everyone would sort of embrace that idea.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, and she says the fact that President Obama picked her to serve in his cabinet in that key position has such an impact around the world. People just can't believe that two arch political rivals then ultimately became allies. She says it shows the best of America.

CURRY: Alright. Savannah Guthrie, thank you so much for your report.


- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.