December 2nd, 2008
05:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Gates, a lifelong spy, reveals two secrets in press briefing

Obama wants Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense.
Obama wants Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Washington is full of seemingly obscure places where history is made. Deep Throat's parking garage, the balcony at Ford's Theater. Now you can add the fire station at Reagan National Airport.

That's where President-elect Barack Obama met secretly with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discuss the unprecedented idea of having Gates continue on in the Obama administration.

Reporters traveling with Obama on November 10 knew that he'd gone into the airport fire station after his visit with President Bush at the White House. What they never knew was who he was meeting in the fire station.

Tuesday at a briefing at the Pentagon, Gates spilled the beans.

"We did meet the day he came to Washington to meet with the President. We met when he went back to the airport. We actually met in the fire station at National Airport and they pulled the trucks out so that our cars could go in."

Earlier in the briefing Gates solved another mystery – whether he is indeed a Republican. It's long been suspected that he was a Republican, he's donate to party causes before and served for Republican presidents.

When a reporter asked his party affiliation, Gates said he considers himself a Republican, but not a registered one.

"I felt when I was at CIA that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical," Gates said Tuesday. "And so I didn't register with a party."

So how does a man who considers himself a Republican feel about working for the leader of the Democratic party?

"You know, the president-elect will be the eighth president I've worked for, and all I can say is I look forward to it," Gates said.


Filed under: Robert Gates
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. deb in Colo

    Sweet... lol!

    December 2, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. Barbara in NC

    Good Man – His integrity is above reproach.

    December 2, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Anthony

    "a lifelong spy"?

    CNN, enough of these pathetic attempts to make an article seem more important than it is with such ridiculous titles

    December 2, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. JuanM

    Yeah "Change" we can believe in...Yawn.

    December 2, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. Tim in Seattle

    If we could ger more of this mans spirit of cooperation out of the republican party in generaly this nation would be in a far better place than it is now – we can only hope that this attituded is infectious and carries on once PE Obama is inauguarated...the last thing we need is the divisiveness that has been the norm (or the bile being spewed by some of the republican AND democrat bloggers alike) – now is not the time it....

    December 2, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. JJ, Illinois

    Great. Now it seems like Obama is doing what Bush told him to do at their meeting since he went to Gates right afterwords. Colin Powell!

    December 2, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. Marnie Craig, FL

    I love secrets. Thank you Secretary Gates for telling America what really happened on November 10th.

    December 2, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Griff

    Obama! A Life-Long Spy...... Chripto.... Where were you...

    December 2, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Tim K

    I realize the auto industry needs help...and I know where they can get the help they need–
    Why don't they contact Exxon, Mobile, Texaco, or one of the others that report record profits–after all one can nott exist without the other!

    December 2, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    That's cool, Secretary Gates. Neat story. Thank you for staying on, putting aside partisan politics and doing what is in all of our best interests.

    December 2, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. Griff

    Golly! They are going to light up the Christmas Tree... Barack Obama is the Fairy..... On Top!

    December 2, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Paul Wall

    Both President-Elect Obama and Secretary Gates made the right decisions.

    December 2, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. CHANGE IS COMING - FINALLY!!!

    With people like secretary Gates; no wonder there is so many leaks in government. Obama better watch his back with all of these diarrhea mouth moninees who are trying to undermine his presidency!!!!

    December 2, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Kingsley

    Those "secrets" are bridge club discussions compared to the secrets he really knows as former CIA chief. Tell us who really killed JFK, then we'll really be cooking.

    December 2, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Michael Kuester, OH

    While I'm still on the fence about the Clinton appointment, I think Obama made an excellent decision in keeping Gates. During what will likely be a period of military realignment, experience and an awareness of the realities in Iraq will be crucial.

    December 2, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. waukon, WI

    Gates is a professional. If someone isn't they need to go.

    Obama is right, we don't want to get stuck in ideology we want action (common sense, pragmatic, focus on security, energy and health care) by keeping it clear.

    Professionals are more likely to be able to see the difference. I hope Obama can remove any infantile secretaries or under secretaries as soon as they are found out. With all the jobs to fill it would be hard to imagine that some didn't sneak through.

    December 2, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. karen-phoenix

    Great story about two great men who will bring peace to the world!!!
    God Bless Obama/Biden and their whole team!!!!

    December 2, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Caermon Durgae

    This is news?

    December 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. GA resident

    CNN – That is a wierd title. You guys are as creative as the fortune cookie writers. Take that however you like...

    December 2, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Desert Storm Vet

    Thank you CNN. I will be able to sleep tonight, without that lingering mystery keeping me awake.

    December 2, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. Perusing-Through

    . . . AHHH, , , , THAT IS FUNNY.

    For the President-Elect to meet with an ex-CIA Chief in the Fire Station of D.C.'s International Airport, just to confirm face-to-face whether ex-Spy Gates want to stay on the job during the transition job Secretary of Defense, is absolutely astonishing, gutsy, and somewhat hilarious.

    If Steven Spielberg or any other producer makes a movie of Obama's historic and unlikely campaign-run, this airport scene must be included. :-)

    December 2, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Fabienne

    WAW! That was indeed a BIG secret!!!

    December 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  23. Perusing-Through

    . . . AHHH, , , , THAT IS FUNNY.

    For the President-Elect to meet with an ex-CIA Chief in the Fire Station of D.C.'s International Airport, just to confirm face-to-face whether ex-spy Gates want to stay on the job during the transition as Secretary of Defense, is absolutely astonishing, gutsy, and somewhat hilarious.

    If Steven Spielberg or any other producer makes a movie of Obama's historic and unlikely campaign-run, this airport scene must be included. :-)

    December 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. Amber

    Everyone loves a good intrigue!

    December 2, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. Dissenter

    WOW! This is more important than the financial crisis! What's next? That Dick Cheney was secretly running the country??! Oh, that wouldn't be news....that would be the Truth!

    December 2, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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