Would you...what could we do to persuade you to run for vice president? a State Department employee asked Hillary Clinton yesterday during a Town Hall meeting with her staff.

It came as little surprise to listeners that Clinton brushed off any confirmation that she would run as a vice presidential candidate in 2012. After all, as Secretary of State, Clinton would have to resign her position if she planned to run in the general election.

But viewers were shocked when the Secretary of State added that when the 2012 election is over, she would be stepping down from her post, quitting Washington politics for the time being. A State department official confirmed Clinton's statements to Yahoo News.

'High Wire of American Politics'

Well, Clinton laughed after the employee's question, her hand over her heart. Oh my goodness. Well, first of all, it's one of the most extraordinary and wonderful experiences, being able to work with all of you.

For months now, rumors have been swirling that the Secretary of State might be switching places with Joe Biden and running as President Obama's new running mate for his 2012 re-election campaign.

Her high approval ratings--she was recently voted Gallup's Most Admired Woman of 2011--have helped stoke the fires of those rumors. For those who supported her 2008 presidential run, it seemed Clinton's time had come.

But then the political powerhouse made a surprising and, for some, devastating announcement: she will not continue as Secretary of State or as Vice President, if and when Obama is re-elected. In fact, she may not be returning to politics at all.

I have made it clear that I will certainly stay on until the president nominated someone, and that transition can occur, she said.

But I think after 20 years... of being on the high wire of American politics and all the challenges that come with that, it would be probably a good idea to just find out just how tired I am, she told the audience.

'I have no idea what it will be.'

Clinton noted that her time away could be shorter than she thinks. After all, everyone says that [they're quitting] when they leave these jobs.

For the time being, however, Hillary Clinton is focused on what may be her final months on Capitol Hill.

I think from my perspective, I will just work as hard as I can until the last minute that I have the honor of being Secretary, she said.

I'll certainly do everything, no matter what I do, which I have no idea what it will be, to support all of you [in the State Department].

'I didn't watch any of those debates.'

Clinton also voiced her support for Vice President Joe Biden, who she claims does an excellent job in the White House. She ended her speech by reflecting on her decision to step down, which she said was unusual and slightly uncomfortable for her.

It's a little odd for me to be totally out of an election season, since as Secretary of State I cannot participate, she finished, to some laughter from the crowd.

But you know, I didn't watch any of those debates. The audience erupted into applause.

 Below, watch Hillary Clinton's startling announcement at the State Department Town Hall meeting: