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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she thinks President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of "his attitude toward America's role in the world."
"His willingness to really kind of challenge everyone ... restores a kind of image and appreciation of our country," Clinton said in an NBC "Today" show interview broadcast Monday.
Clinton said she didn't think winning the award would have any effect on Obama's deliberations over what to do next in Afghanistan, including the question of whether to send large numbers of additional troops into a country where violence has recently surged.
"I think that the president makes each decision on the merits," she said in the interview taped during her visit to Zurich, Switzerland. She said the Nobel award is "not going to influence" the tough decisions Obama faces on Afghanistan.
"Every one of those deaths and all of the injuries of any our men and women in uniform weigh heavily on all us," Clinton said. "I want to guarantee all your listeners that this process will result in a very well thought-out approach." She said she recognizes some are demanding a precipitate withdrawal while others believe there should be a substantial infusion of forces.
"Neither extreme is really focused on the situation, as we are," Clinton told interviewer Ann Curry.
Asked about speculation that, intentionally or otherwise, she now projects too low a profile in heading up the U.S. diplomatic establishment, Clinton called that charge "absurd" and said it is "so at variance with what I do every day."
"Maybe there is some misunderstanding which needs to be clarified," she said. "I believe in delegating power ... I am not one of those people who feel I have to have my face in front of the newspaper and TV every day ... It's just the way I am."
"My goal is to be a very positive force to implement the kind of changes that the president and I believe are in the best interest of country, but that doesn't mean it has to be me, me, me all the time. I like lifting people up."
She answered "no" bluntly – but smilingly – when asked if she would ever run again for president.
"This is a great job," Clinton said. "This is a 24/7 job, and I'm looking forward to retirement at some point."