Hillary Clinton doesn't think she will ever reach the Oval Office, so she sees her upcoming tenure as secretary of state as the high point of her political career and a way to complete her legacy, friends say. "Hillary has concluded that she is not going to be president," says a confidant who advised her husband, Bill, when he was in the White House. "She realizes that it's time for a new generation."
But she is committed to becoming one of the most effective and high-profile secretaries of state in history.
To that end, she is surrounding herself with experienced, aggressive Washington insiders such as James Steinberg, former deputy national security adviser under Bill Clinton, whom she has tapped as deputy secretary of state for policy. She is moving to expand the budget of the State Department and intends to get closely involved in global economic issues. And she wants to broaden State's power within the new administration of Barack Obama far beyond what it was under President Bush, when the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney often held sway, Democratic insiders say.
If confirmed by the Senate as expected, Clinton will cap a national career that started with being first lady and included her years as a senator from New York and her groundbreaking but unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination for president this year.
"Hillary is an important symbol all over the world," says a friend and supporter, and she will use her prestige to promote Obama's agenda of cooperation and aggressive diplomacy.