At Clinton Benghazi Hearing, Some 2016 Allusions

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to a question during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington on Jan. 23, 2013.

For Hillary Clinton, speculation about a 2016 presidential candidacy may be inescapable in any forum.

That would include today’s hearing of the House Foreign Relations Committee, which questioned the outgoing Secretary of State about the September 2012 attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Committee Democrats used part of their question time to praise Clinton and her public service, with some all but endorsing her for president in 2016. (Clinton hasn’t said what she’ll do).

“I salute you, and I look ahead to 2016, wishing you much success and extending to you my highest regards,” Delegate Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa said to Clinton, who laughed in response.

Representative Ted Deutch of Florida smiled after telling Clinton he hoped “after a bit of rest,” she would “consider a return to public service, and should that return bring you to Florida, I would look forward to welcoming you there.”

“I think I speak for all the freshmen that we’re not going to get much time to serve with you, but we hope in a few years we’ll get that chance to serve again,” said first-term Democrat Ami Bera of California.

Some Republicans even made allusions to a potential Clinton campaign.

“Madam Secretary, first let me thank you for your service. And I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Mostly,” Steve Chabot of Ohio said to laughter.

“We look forward to your next steps. We’ll see what happens,” said Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

Republican Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas, noted that “some of our peers on the other side have expressed their ambitions for your future,” before offering that he wished Clinton, who spent many years in public life in Arkansas, had won the 2008 Democratic nomination. Clinton did beat her current boss, President Barack Obama, by 70 percent to 26 percent in that state’s Democratic primary back then.

“I did pretty well in Arkansas,” she said.

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