December 11th, 2008
08:22 AM ET
5 years ago

Balancing act: Defense Secretary to bridge two administrations

Gates has the tough task of bridging two administrations.
Gates has the tough task of bridging two administrations.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates is learning that becoming the first defense secretary to bridge two administrations can lead to some awkward moments.

Last week, President-elect Obama announced that he would keep Gates on to run the Pentagon.

He still answers to President Bush, since, as both President Bush and President-elect Obama have pointed out, "there's only one commander in chief at a time," Gates said. But he is not blind to the fact that his new boss and his transition team have demands too, which leads to "occasional awkwardness."

Asked for an example, Gates said that at times he's had to choose between meeting with the transition team or meeting with members of the current administration.

Apparently the incoming president's staff wins out over outgoing president's staff.

"Let's just say that if I'm faced with a choice between attending a principals meeting on an issue that I think it not particularly hot, and a meeting with the transition folks, I'll opt for the latter," Gates said.

But the current president doesn't have to worry about being ignored.

"I'm not forgetting at all for a second who is the president until noon on January 20th," Gates said. "I haven't missed any meetings with the president, let me put it that way."

Gates has had "several telephone calls" with the president-elect to talk about personnel to replace the outgoing political appointees, he told reporters traveling with him on a trip overseas.

"We really haven't sat down yet for a thorough discussion of specific foreign policy issues, national security issues," Gates told the traveling reporters, according to a transcript.

He's also met with Vice President-elect Joe Biden, who was in town Monday to meet with the defense secretary and the incoming nominee for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.


Filed under: Robert Gates
December 11th, 2008
05:47 AM ET
5 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Thursday Dec. 11th, 2008

ALT TEXT

CNN: House passes $14 billion auto bailout package
The House of Representatives handily passed a bill Wednesday night that would provide up to $14 billion in bridge loans to automakers, but Republican opposition cast doubt about the bill's fate in the Senate later this week.

CNN: Obama calls on Blagojevich to resign
President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday joined calls for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign.

CNN: Jackson says he didn't 'pay to play' Illinois politics
A law enforcement official connected to the investigation into Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich confirmed Wednesday that the person referred to in the criminal complaint against the governor as "Senate Candidate 5" is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

CNN: Source: Daschle to get Health and Human Services nod Thursday
Former Sen. Tom Daschle will be announced Thursday as President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, a Democratic source said Wednesday.

CNN: Obama makes pick for energy chief, sources say
President-elect Barack Obama is likely to name Steven Chu, a physicist who runs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his energy secretary, three Democratic officials close to the transition said.

CNN: Jindal says not interested in being president
Bobby Jindal — the Indian-American Louisiana governor who is widely viewed as one of the frontrunners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — flatly said Tuesday he's not interested in seeking the White House.
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