KOLKATA - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday she hoped the United States would elect a woman as president during her lifetime, but again rejected calls for her to make a new White House run.
"I hope so. I really want to see that in my lifetime," Clinton, 64, told a public forum in the Indian city of Kolkata when asked about the prospects for a female US president.
Clinton said that women still suffered from a "glass ceiling" in politics, complaining that media write of the "pastel hues" in women leaders' wardrobes even when they are talking about defence policy.
But Clinton, who narrowly lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, politely rebuffed calls from Indian students to make another shot at the presidency in 2016.
"I'm very flattered, but I think it's time to step off the high-wire," said Clinton, who has repeatedly said she will retire when Obama's term ends in January.
"I'd like to go back to India and just wander around without having the streets be closed and a lot of security," she said.
Clinton has been in the public spotlight for more than 20 years as first lady, senator and now as the top US diplomat. Recent polls show that she is one of the most popular US politicians, with support across the spectrum.
Clinton said that she has learned to laugh at herself. She quoted former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt -- one of her heroes -- who advised "growing skin as thick as a rhinoceros if you are a woman in politics".
"When you have as much experience as I have, you either figure out how to deal with it or you don't get out of bed in the morning," Clinton said.
"Sometimes your critics actually have a lesson for you. Maybe what you were trying to do was not being communicated effectively and they are pointing that out."
Clinton recently was photographed dancing over beers with staff on a trip to Colombia and met with the creators of an Internet satire that showed an assertive-looking Clinton in sunglasses sending out faux bossy text messages.
Clinton called the "Texts from Hillary" meme "funny, without being mean".
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