"That's really a decision for her to make," he said at a forum in Monterey, Calif., when asked about rumors that she may enter the crowded Democratic field, according to The Californian newspaper.
Mr. Clinton added that New Yorkers have encouraged Sen. Clinton to run despite her promise to complete her six-year Senate term.
"He's clearly not discouraging speculation that she could be in the race in 2004," former New York State Democratic chairwoman Judith Hope told the New York Daily News. Hope is close to the former first lady but is backing Howard Dean for president.
Former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, the moderator of the Monterey event, said Mr. Clinton's comments should be taken "at face value. In the end, she's going to make the decision."
"She's getting a lot of people talking," Panetta said.
Mr. Clinton's remarks came just days after he said at a cocktail party at the couple's Westchester home that the Democratic Party had two stars: his wife and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who announced his candidacy for president on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac College poll found Sen. Clinton far ahead of the pack of Democratic presidential hopefuls and running better than any other Democrat against President Bush.
The poll, taken before retired Gen. Wesley Clark entered the race, had Sen. Clinton at 45 percent and all her rivals in single digits.
But the poll showed Mr. Bush easily leading all Democratic challengers, including Sen. Clinton, by at least ten points each.