​Hillary Clinton on making "what appears to be impossible, possible"

Hillary Rodham Clinton on her past and possib... 09:57

The days of calling Hillary Clinton "Madam Secretary" are over. Now, the question is whether she's again contemplating a run for an even more august title. You no doubt have heard about her new book "Hard Choices" (published by CBS' Simon and Schuster). Several days ago the former first lady sat down with our Jane Pauley for some Questions and Answers...

Beneath the tower of Green Hall, by the shores of Lake Waban, Wellesley College alumnae returned last weekend to their alma mater -- among them, former first lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Class of 1969.

CBS News

She laughed as she recognized photos of herself from when she was 21 ("Oh my gosh. Yes. Boy, I had long, long hair."

"What are you laughing at?" asked Pauley.

"I'm laughing at my gestures."

And the pants? "You know what, I have to tell you -- I've never been a fashion icon, in case you haven't noticed, but this was a particularly bad choice."

A Life magazine layout (left) was her first appearance on the national scene, at age 21. The Wellesley Class of 1969 had expressed a desire for one of their own to speak to them, and for them.

Ruth Adams, President of Wellesley in 1969, said then, "There was no debate so far as I could ascertain as to who that spokesman was to be."

"The challenge now," Rodham said in her speech, "is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible."

The night before her speech, an older woman told Clinton she wouldn't trade places for the world with her, given what the world was coming to, and that in effect, she was afraid. Clinton responded: "Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it, not now."

She's had time lately to think. and to write. Her new book, "Hard Choices" (from CBS' Simon & Schuster), is about her four years as secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Simon & Schuster

"You have a good working relationship," said Pauley. "Would 'friendship' be appropriate?"

"We became friends," said Clinton.

"You did clear your throat before you said that!"

"But -- yep! Let -- let-- let me -- let me take a drink of water. When then-President-elect Obama called me, he pushed me hard to accept his offer to be Secretary of State.

"And finally I said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Contrary to reports, I think we can become good friends.'"

"There's a moment from your book where the president takes you aside, and I think you're expecting some, you know, important consultation. And he says, 'You've got something in your teeth.'"

Clinton laughed: "Now that's true friendship!"

As Secretary of State, she famously traveled nearly a million miles. What does she say she accomplished?

"I helped to restore America's leadership," said Clinton.

"How do you quantify that accomplishment?" asked Pauley.

Hillary Clinton on politicians "treading wate... 02:08

"We quantify it in a number of ways. Clearly, ending our role in the war in Iraq. In Afghanistan, putting more troops in, in order to try to beat back the Taliban advance so that we could get to the point where we are today, that they've had a peaceful election. Taking on the challenges that are posed by Iran. Getting Russia and China on board to pass tough sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. Negotiating a cease fire in Gaza to try to prevent a war.

And I think we laid the groundwork for the world as it is and how America has to engage in it."

She writes as well about secret talks to win the release of an American held prisoner by the Taliban: "In every discussion about prisoners, we demanded the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl."

Pauley asked Clinton what she thinks happened the night Bergdahl went off base.

"I have no idea," Clinton said. "I think that's going to be, I hope, at least clarified by the Army investigation that's been promised. But I agree with all those who have said, starting with the president, going to our military leadership that it's just a core principal: You don't leave anybody behind."

But Sgt. Bergdahl's recent release has only inflamed the president's critics.

"Is there really any question, in your mind, that it violated the administration's own principle, 'Don't do stupid stuff?" asked Pauley.

"Jane, I don't think any of us, and even I, who served for four years in the administration, can from the outside make that judgment," said Clinton. "This was, as I am told, a decision by the military, the intelligence community, the State Department, and the White House."

"And yet, Senator Lindsey Graham is talking about impeachment."

"Well, that's not the first time, I must say!" Clinton laughed. "These are imperfect decisions made by imperfect people based usually on imperfect information."