Rice Says Goodbye To State Department

This post was written by CBS News State Department Reporter Charles Wolfson.

(AP)
Condoleezza Rice has been telling people for months that the Bush administration would sprint to the finish – and she kept her word.

Rice spent part of her last day as America's chief diplomat meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and talking about ways to arrange a cease fire in Gaza. The two colleagues, who are also friends, then signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to prevent Hamas from being rearmed.

Rice then made her final public appearance as America's chief diplomat, speaking to about a thousand State Department employees gathered to hear her farewell remarks. The secretary of state was greeted enthusiastically as she recalled her brief stint as an intern in the building several decades ago.

For the most part, her remarks were serious and optimistic, in keeping with her basic worldview.

"...just remember that if you stay true to what we're trying to do, to our values, to our principles, if we keep working at it, it is, in fact, going to be inevitable that this world will be freer," Rice said. "And when it is freer, it will be safer."

After she finished speaking, the less well known side of Condoleezza Rice took over. As she slowly made her way out of the building, Rice stopped to shake hands, hug her former employees, pose for pictures and generally work the crowd as if she were an experienced politician running for office.

A reporter asked if she had left a note for her successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rice nodded and said yes. Then it was out the front door and off to Camp David, where she will join President and Mrs. Bush for one last trip to the presidential retreat.
  • Charles Wolfson

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