WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama showed no interest Thursday in choosing between Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when asked which Democrat would make a better presidential candidate in 2016.
"Not a chance am I going there," Obama said during an interview on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."
"Here's what I'll say. Both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents," Obama said, choosing his words carefully. "I think Joe Biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever. And he has been with me, at my side, in every tough decision that I've made, from going after bin Laden to dealing with the health care issues, to you name it, he's been there."
Obama lavished similar praise on Clinton, widely regarded as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
"Hillary, I think will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we've ever had," Obama said. "And helped to transition us away from a deep hole that we were in when I first came into office around the world. And to rebuild confidence and trust in the United States.
"They've got different strengths, but both of them would be outstanding," he added. He noted that the most important quality for any president is connecting with Americans.
Clinton, who ran against Obama in the 2008 presidential primary, served as Obama's secretary of state during his first term, and was replaced by John Kerry when she leaf the post after the 2012 election. Her decision to step down, despite Obama's request that she stay another year, fueled speculation that she would once again pursue a bid for the White House.
Clinton has mostly ducked questions on whether she's mounting another presidential campaign, even though Republicans are already anticipating her candidacy.
Biden, on the other hand, has addressed speculation about his presidential aspirations with his signature nonchalance.
"We’ll see where the hell I am," Biden told GQ in July. "I can die a happy man never having been president of the United States of America. But it doesn't mean I won't run.The judgment I'll make is, first of all, am I still as full of as much energy as I have now -- do I feel this? Number two, do I think I'm the best person in the position to move the ball?
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