Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday for the first time that she will not run for president again, firmly setting aside a question that has followed her for most of the past decade.
She has dismissed the notion of a future presidential bid before, and even her most hopeful supporters have long conceded that a 2016 Clinton campaign would be unlikely.
But until this week, there always seemed to be a way to interpret her response as a "maybe." That was not the case in her interview with NBC's Ann Curry.
"Will you ever run for president again? Yes or no?" Curry asked.
"No," Clinton said. "I mean, this is a great job. It is a 24/7 job. And I'm looking forward to retirement at some point."
Clinton will turn 65 in October 2012, putting her at the older end of the range of typical White House seekers. Yet she remains the most viable female potential candidate in either party, after winning 18 million votes, raising more than $220 million and becoming the first woman in history to win a primary.
It is unlikely that any Democrat would challenge President Obama in 2012, when he is all but certain to run for re-election. If he were to win another term, it is unclear who would succeed him as the leader of the Democratic Party in 2016.
Other political figures have ruled out a campaign only to reverse themselves, as Obama did after declaring in 2006 that he would not run for president in 2008.
In the interview, Curry asked Clinton if she ever wished she were president so she could make big decisions for herself. "I have to tell you, it never crosses my mind," Clinton said, adding that she is "part of the team that makes the decisions."
She also called "absurd" what Curry described as a concern by some "that you have been marginalized, that you — that the highest-ranking woman in the United States (is) having to fight against being marginalized."
"Maybe there is some misunderstanding which needs to be clarified," Clinton said. "I believe in delegating power. You know, I'm not one of these people who feels like I have to have my face in the, you know, front of the newspaper or on the TV every moment of the day. I would be irresponsible and negligent were I to say, 'Oh, no, everything must come to me.' "