Don't expect to see Hillary Rodham Clinton nominated to the Supreme Court, the White House said Monday, after a comment by a Utah senator sparked a few hours of political buzz about her chances of replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
The hubbub over the former first lady, New York senator and current Secretary of State began when Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the "Today" show that he "heard" Clinton's name mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Stevens.
Clinton, Hatch said, "would be an interesting person in the mix," but he didn't say where he heard the speculation.
As the buzz dragged on, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor tried to put a stop to it.
"The president thinks Secretary Clinton is doing an excellent job as Secretary of State and wants her to remain in that position," Vietor said.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Clinton "loves her present job and is not looking for another one."
New York's senators said they don't expect Clinton to leave the State Department.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said Clinton is "very happy and very productive as Secretary of State." And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who succeeded Clinton, "knows that Secretary Clinton is fully focused on providing invaluable leadership on vital national security issues as our Secretary of State," spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said.
The mere mention of Clinton's name in connection with a Supreme Court nomination was enough to set political circles buzzing.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) surmised that Hatch was trying to befuddle the White House by mentioning Clinton.
"He's just trying to muddy the waters and throw a curveball," King said. "Part of the political motive here is to confuse the White House."
Age could be a disqualifying factor for Clinton, 63. She is older than all Supreme Court nominees since Richard Nixon named Lewis Powell Jr., then 64, to the court in 1971. Powell served until 1987, when he retired.
"They like them to be younger," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. "But I can see Hillary Clinton making it to 100. Is it likely she'll be named? No. Is it a possibility? Yes."
Meena Bose, the director of the Kalikow Center for the Study of the American presidency at Hofstra University, put the odds of a Clinton nomination at "less than five percent," adding that Clinton would be unlikely to leave the State Department after less than two years on the job.
"There have been all kinds of questions about what else Hillary Clinton would do," she said. "It's a little bit of Washington chatter that has turned into a news story."
With Tom Brune