Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after receiving the Liberty Medal during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Philadelphia. / AP PHOTO/MATT ROURKE
(CBSNews.com) - "I do" wrestle with running for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told New York Magazine in an interview published Sunday.
Before anybody reads too much into her admission, she added she's "not in any hurry" to decide.
"I think it's a serious decision, not to be made lightly, but it's also not one that has to be made soon," Clinton said.
"This election is more than three years away, and I just don't think it's good for the country," she said. "It's like when you meet somebody at a party and they look over your shoulder to see who else is there, and you want to talk to them about something that's really important; in fact, maybe you came to the party to talk to that particular person, and they just want to know what's next. I feel like that's our political process right now. I just don't think it is good."
The line - she's taking stock of her options, enjoying her downtime, and not rushing to make a decision any time soon - has been Clinton's stock answer to the will-she-or-won't-she frenzy that has gripped the political world since the very moment President Obama won reelection in 2012. She has studiously avoided tipping her hand or fanning the flames of speculation, while making sure the option remains available if she decides to seize it.
But despite Clinton's noncommittal stance on the 2016 presidential race, many of her lieutenants have already concluded that she's running.
"She's running, but she doesn't know it yet," one unnamed Clinton loyalist told New York Magazine. "It's just like a force of history. It's inexorable, it's gravitational. I think she actually believes she has more say in it than she actually does."
Another anonymous associate agreed: "She's doing a very Clintonian thing. In her mind, she's running for it, and she's also convinced herself she hasn't made up her mind. She's going to run for president. It's a foregone conclusion."
In the meantime, as she ponders her decision, she's quietly burnishing her credentials and honing her message, just in case she decides to take the plunge.
"'I'm both pragmatic and realistic. I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders, and I'll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country," she said. "I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other."
She bemoaned the ideological fights that have created such dysfunction in Washington in recent years, saying it's a poor reflection of the middle-of-the-road attitudes that most Americans have about politics.
"People are stereotypes, they are caricaturized," she said. "It comes from both sides of the political aisle, it comes from the press. It's all about conflict, it's all about personality, and there are huge stakes in the policies that are being debated, and I think there's a hunger amongst a very significant, maybe even a critical mass of Americans, clustered on the left, right, and center, to have an adult conversation about how we're going to solve these problems.
"I have a lot of reason to believe, as we saw in the 2012 election, most Americans don't agree with the extremists on any side of an issue, but there needs to continue to be an effort to find common ground, or even take it to higher ground on behalf of the future," Clinton said.
If you were wondering, don't ask former President Bill Clinton if she's running, Hillary Clinton added, because he doesn't know either.
"I don't think even he is, you know, focused on that right now," she said.
In an interview on Sunday with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Bill Clinton seconded that assessment.
"Somebody may know" if she's running, he said, "but I don't. I'm not one of the people who does. We're a long way ahead. I think she would be the first to tell you that there is no such thing as a done deal, ever, by anybody. But I don't know what she's going to do."
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