December 2nd, 2008
05:01 PM ET
9 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. jimmy

    Maybe Gates actually puts country first. Heaven knows we need THAT.

    December 2, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  2. American Me

    Gates is a great American and deserves to be retained. I think it was pretty gutsy of Barack to keep him. Who cares about his politics, men and women are dying. We're finally doing the right thing for a change. It feels good and makes me happier than ever to be an American.

    December 2, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. Casting Call For Barack Look Alike

    The rise and rise of Barack Obama is definitely going to be a movie. I hope they get a fresh actor that we've never seen before. There are so many out there, why use Will Smith?

    December 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. Napolitano as Sec. of Homeland Security is a joke--

    What do you see in her background that will help us prevent Mumbai types of attacks in our cities?


    Better start buying armored cars to drive your kids to school and get yourself a flak jacket to get to work

    December 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. marcus tullius c

    He's a pck of George W. So he's allright.

    December 2, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  6. FreeNLovIt

    They should have met and talked in a phone booth like Get Smart

    December 2, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. Hey Gates---if you are such a good spy, how about finding Obama's aunt.

    She's an illegal immigrant living off taxpayer money in Public Housing.

    Now, someone is hiding her and even CNN has been ordered to leave the story alone.

    Maybe the spy Sec. of Defense can find her.

    December 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. FreeNLovIt

    Or maybe meet in GW's office enclosed by a bubble

    December 2, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. Horace G. Lee

    On the road, in a hurry, little time for private meetings, how else were they meet? Ummm, though a bit surreal for sure...

    December 2, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. FreeNLovIt

    Gates is first, an American of the United States. WE need more role models like the moderate wings of the Elephants.

    December 2, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. Gary Jaussaud

    My Comment is:

    Good God! There are so many important things in the World to talk
    about rather than where Gates and Obama talked and why there.

    I think the press should start sharing with America and the World
    the good things people of the World are doing to help the less of us
    get along, and what those of us that are in good shape can do to
    help others, not this kind of Tabloid crap. who cares?

    December 2, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. Josh

    The fact is that Russia is Obama's biggest potential weakness, Putin is not opposed to rekindling the cold war as noted in language referring to repositioning nuclear targets, etc, as well as by Gates remarking on cold war rhetoric in the U.N. Gates is probably one of the most qualified people to help with that side, and the guy has tact. The middle east, Europe, Africa, globalists of all stripes could all swoon over Obama, but while this may all take place, Putin could care less, and will continue to work on his Topol missiles, find ways to keep the Middle East stirred up to get the oil prices higher, and then if he can succeed, continue his military build up. No one wants to talk about a cold war in hopes things won't get stirred up, but the fact is, the current direction of leadership in Russia is the real threat, they will stop at nothing, and if human life is not valued, who is to say at what lengths Putin will stop, I would not rule out anything. Terrorism is a minor threat in comparison to the Russian threat. Underestimate at our own peril.

    December 2, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  13. Independent & Pragmatic

    I echo Jackie in Dallas' sentiments.

    I like Gates and I have always had great respect for Colin Powell...except for his speech at the UN that convinced many of the need to invade Iraq, which I didn't buy at the time.

    Obama is building a very qualified and formidable cabinet.

    Let's see in a year how things shape up.

    December 2, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. Tom in Delaware

    Huh, and here I thought it was in a mens room at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.

    Go fiqure.

    December 2, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  15. Ramona

    Continue on is incorrect grammar. Continue is sufficient to convey the meaning.

    December 2, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. Geetha

    I am so glad and impressed to see the Obama team, including Hilary. It speaks very highly of both Hilary and Obama. Only great and confident minds can put the past behind and move forward. It requires character. intelligence and above all good will. Congratulations both of you.

    December 2, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. rodney

    Gates was hosed at the fire station. How did he get there? I think he used the underground submarine inlet from the Pentagon.

    December 2, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  18. Mike

    Gates is a strong and principled professional – a good choice. Still I would have preferred Colin Powell, but | suspect Colin wants to stay low-profile and out of the fray.

    December 2, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  19. Cat DS

    I love this guy!! FIrst the clandestine meeting with Sen. Clinton after she left the primary, now this! No telling how many times he's outsmarted the press that we'll never hear about . Hold on to your seats, folks, we'll never outfox this new President.

    December 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    is it really news?

    December 2, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |

    *yawn* s whats... this is no spy story... if hes not the SOD hell be behind the scenes pulling the wrong strings somewhere

    December 2, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  22. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Gates= Obama's best pick. Jones = close second. Hillary = Obama's worst pick. MSM frenzy over this cabinet selection process = just plain silly. You'd think Obama was the first President to pick a cabinet the way the MSM is fawning over it. Why not wait until Obama has actually done something before trying to give him a report card.

    December 2, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  23. Wacky Obacky

    Now, what we really want to hear about is Obama's secret meeting with Senator Craig in the airport's bathroom...! That covert intercourse would be very interesting I think!

    December 2, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. Jerry


    December 2, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. Analyst, not spy.

    Your title is misleading. Gates was a analyst, not a spy. Not everyone who worked at CIA is a "spy".

    December 2, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
1 2 3 4