Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today she was "thrilled to be back" at work at the State Department after having been away for more than a month because of the stomach flu, a concussion and a blood clot in her head.
Clinton's comments were the first she has made publicly since she took ill in early December. They came at her first public event since returning to work at the State Department Monday, a photo opportunity with Daniel Rooney, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
Clinton, 65, praised her "fabulous team" at the State Department "who never missed a beat during the time I was away."
She said the focus of what remains of her tenure at the State Department would be on "continuing our work, finishing up everything that we can and helping Senator Kerry with his transition."
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has been nominated to succeed Clinton, although no date has been set for his Senate confirmation hearing.
When asked whether she was looking forward to retirement, Clinton said, "I don't know if that is the word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while."
Clinton described her pending departure as "somewhat bittersweet" because she has "had the most extraordinary experience and with the amazing team of people."
But she also said she is "very much looking forward to doing everything we can these last few weeks to resolve and finish up wherever possible and then to have a very smooth seamless transition to Senator Kerry to continue the work."
When Clinton returned to work Monday, staffers surprised her with a football helmet sporting the State Department seal, noting that "Washington can be a contact sport."
A reporter pointed out that Rooney, as a former owner of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, knew a thing or two about contact injuries.
"Yes," Clinton joked, "that's why I now have a helmet."