The poll, released as part of a series for the magazine's latest cover story, which features Clinton, shows Obama's 2008 rival leading Romney by 17 points, Cain by 22 and Perry by 26 in a hypothetical competition. Obama leads Romney by 3 points and both Cain and Perry by 12 in the same poll.
The results are just the latest buzz in an ongoing saga of speculation and denial about Clinton's aspirations for higher office. Some have suggested that she'd replace Joe Biden as Vice President ahead of Obama's 2012 reelections campaign, while others have posited, or perhaps just hoped, that she'd mount a primary challenge to Obama in 2012. Clinton's response has been unequivocal denial to both. In fact, she's said that she wouldn't serve in Obama's cabinet past 2012, and that her role as Secretary of State was likely her "last public position."
A national poll conducted for TIME on Oct. 9 and 10 found that if Clinton were the Democratic nominee for President in 2012, she would best Mitt Romney 55% to 38%, Rick Perry 58% to 32% and Herman Cain 56% to 34% among likely voters in a general election. The same poll found that President Obama would edge Romney by just 46% to 43%, Perry by 50% to 38% and Cain by 49% to 37% among likely voters.
In a recent interview with Time, Clinton described her thoughts on President Obama and their relationship:
Well, I think that the President is an American exceptionalist almost by definition. He exemplifies American exceptionalism. But I think he also governs with that belief as well. He has a deep respect for other people's opinions and their own values of their culture and their history, which I think makes sense, because if you're going to work with people, you need to know where they're coming from and not just assume you can assert your own position. And I think that what captured people about his election was that they knew nowhere else in the world could that have happened than the United States of America.
For the entire interview, click through to Time.