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Caroline Kennedy backs Hillary Clinton for 2016

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy delivers a speech during a signing ceremony to extend the agreement on cooperation in research and
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy delivers a speech during a signing ceremony to extend the agreement on cooperation in research and

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Caroline Kennedy, the current U.S. ambassador to Japan, says she would support Hillary Clinton if the former secretary of state seeks the presidency in 2016, and she hopes Clinton decides to run.

Kennedy and her late uncle, former Senator Ted Kennedy, endorsed President Barack Obama in 2008 rather than Clinton, a significant move in that closely contested campaign.

Kennedy said in series of media interviews aired on Thursday that she hopes Clinton will seek to run as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Kennedy told ABC News she would support Clinton's candidacy "if she runs."

Speaking in a separate interview with NBC News, Kennedy said she thought Clinton would be a "great" choice, the network's correspondent Chuck Todd said.

Kennedy's comments came as Obama visited Japan as part of his four-nation tour of Asia.

Based in Tokyo, Kennedy is far from the politics of Washington. But she is still closely watched as the daughter of a former president and a prominent member of one of America's most famous political clans, though some critics have questioned the Kennedy family's remaining influence.

Clinton has remained mum on declaring her candidacy even as supporters start to line up and raise campaign funds.

Clinton's daughter Chelsea last week announced her pregnancy, which also drew speculation about Clinton's future and whether she would run.

"I know it sounds like a cliché, but two years is a really long time in politics," Kennedy told ABC. "I'm sure she's looking forward to being a grandmother, I know she's got to decide soon. So, so you know I hope so."

As for her own political ambitions, Kennedy said she is not planning to run for office. "I doubt that I would ever run in the United States," she told NBC.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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