December 2nd, 2008
05:01 PM ET
6 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. JL

    Secret meetings in fire stations, eluding reporters, hiding cars. It's just like one of those covert-op spy movies (play funky music here).

    December 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz

    GENTLEMEN, PLEASE PUT OUT THESE FIRES.

    I KNOW THERE IS MONEY TO BE MADE BY WAR.

    AND I AM NO PACIFIST. BUT THERE HAS TO BE

    A BETTER WAY, A SMARTER WAY, A HEALTHIER WAY.

    LETS GET OFF THE PATH OF WORLD DESTRUCTION,

    IF WE CAN. I AM CONVINCED WE CAN DO A BETTER JOB.

    December 2, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Jackie in Dallas

    Gee, if Gates and Obama can't even keep a secret for a month, is that a good sign?

    Seriously, who else would President Elect Obama vet for the job at the current time? Personally, I'd prefer Colin Powell, but too many people won't forgive him for being the Bush patsy at the UN. Hopefully, Gates will remember who his new boss is after Jan 20th, and remember he is there for Obama's agenda, not Bush's!

    December 2, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. ShawnT

    "It's long been suspected that he was a Republican, he's donate to party causes before and served for Republican presidents."

    'he's donate to party causes"? Did you mean 'hea has donated to party causes'?

    yet another error. either CNN's grammar, or editing, or both...are in the crapper.

    December 2, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Some guy over there at that place

    Such riveting journalism is truly amazing.

    Regardless, I am glad Gates will at least stay on for a while. The real question is will he retain all of his authority or will he be second guessed every step of the way.

    December 2, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Argon

    Why didn't they meet in Dick Cheny's "Undislosed Location"?

    December 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. Terry B.

    Hum, could the airport fire department actually be Cheney's "undisclosed location"???

    December 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. O.G.

    Are you saying that OBAMA agrees with President BUSH about something? SHOCKING! He should be reprimanded!

    December 2, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. JACKED-UP-POLITICS, FLORIDA

    lol The media can't keep up with the Smooth man. He is just too suave. I Love that man. LOL.

    December 2, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Brad

    I, too, have my reservations about Hillary (and Bill) Clinton...but she won't be stiring up things against Obama in the Senate and he can send her out of town whenever she annoys him, but that's another story...

    Re: keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense...I think that this is a good move. Gates is a solid professional who doesn't take any crap off of anyone in the military (remember he got rid of the Air Force Chief of Staff) and is respected by them.

    The last thing we need is for Obama to listen to those far-left "progressives"...they'll just march him off a cliff for ideology's sake.

    December 2, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  11. Locutus of Borg

    The Gates unit has been forbidden to discuss his dealings with the Borg.

    December 2, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  12. Business Owner In NY

    Is this really even remotely news worthy? When will CNN stop sucking up to Obama and print something other than puff pieces?

    December 2, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. Franky

    "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."

    Man!! I haven't heard a much more private meeting since the last season of the "Sopranos" was over, LOL!

    December 2, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Rockford

    Well...
    That was about as interesting as Obama off teleprompter...

    December 2, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. Jeremy Glick

    Gates is the single redeeming element of Bush's presidency – he is the only member of the current administration who has put our troops and military success ahead of the Bush corporate agenda. Gates challenged the air-force to use more UAV's and re-think its operations. He has helped the U.S. military get up to date equipment. Clearly Obama is putting our troops first with this move.

    December 2, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  16. Rush Lameduck

    Wow ,and I thought it would be a phone booth,how exciting.

    December 2, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Denny Sangiovanni

    Great, that's all that matter. "Looking forward to it".

    December 2, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. 007

    My name is Bond.. Gates Bond!

    December 2, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. Brenda R. Harris

    Sooooooooo.

    December 2, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. Godluvr

    Thank you so much SOD Gates! I was wanting to know who P-E Obama had met with. I thought it might have been Sen. Clinton.

    You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you (me) free!

    December 2, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. There May Be Hope

    I like Gates. I got the sense that he was staying more for the soldiers than the president elect, and that says a lot. He can put his politics aside to do the right thing. He may have a future in politics, who knows? I'd vote for him a whole lot faster than Sarah P.

    December 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  22. 60 year old white female and proud supporter of PE Obama

    Gates and Obama must have had a really good laugh at all the pundits and reporters who were desperately trying to determine who Obama was meeting with, even trying to listen in on PE Obama's phone conversation.

    December 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. Godluvr

    To Business owner in NY:

    Are you Joe The Plumber's brother with another question for our new president?

    Are you a ghost writing a book too? ... LOL......

    December 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  24. Agent 86 Calling

    Where is the phone shoe?

    December 2, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. Loose Lips

    I love people who can keep secrets. Loose lips have sunk a lot of ships in DC lately. It's a new day.

    December 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
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