WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was a prominent member of former President George W. Bush's Cabinet, told CNN that he is enjoying working for Bush's Democratic successor.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Gates praised Obama’s approach to decision-making as the nation's commander-in-chief.
"He is very analytical," Gates told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "He is very deliberate about the way he goes through things. He wants to understand everything. He delves very deeply into these issues."
Gates, who previously worked for 27 years in the CIA under six presidents, was the first defense secretary to be asked to remain in office by a newly-elected president when Obama kept him on.
The Pentagon chief was diplomatic when comparing Obama to other former occupants of the Oval Office.
"I'm not going to get into comparing the different presidents, Gates said. “I very much enjoy working for this one."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The "vast right-wing conspiracy" that attacked him during his presidency has been weakened, but continues to operate against President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton said Sunday.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Clinton was asked about the term his wife Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State, famously coined. "Is it still there?" asked host David Gregory.
"Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was, because America's changed demographically, but it's as virulent as it was," said the former president.
"I mean, they're saying things about him [Obama] - you know, it's like when they accused me of murder and all that stuff they did," Clinton said, in an apparent reference to conspiracy theories surrounding the suicide of White House deputy counsel Vince Foster.
He added, "It's not really good for the Republicans and the country, what's going on now. I mean, they may be hurting President Obama. They can take his numbers down, they can run his opposition up. But fundamentally, he and his team have a positive agenda for America."
The nation needs "a credible debate about what's the right balance between continuing to expand the economy through stimulus and beginning to move back to fiscal balance," Clinton said. "We need a credible debate about what's the best way to get to universal [health care] coverage."
(CNN) - William Safire, a New York Times columnist and former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, has died, a spokeswoman for the Times said Sunday. He was 79, according to the newspaper.
Safire joined the Times as a columnist in 1973. In addition to his conservative news columns, which he wrote until 2005, he wrote a language column for the paper's Sunday magazine from 1979 until shortly before his death.
He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1978 for his columns on the travails surrounding Bert Lance, who resigned under fire as President Carter's budget director in 1977.
Updated: 4:03 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top U.S. officials say the underground nuclear facility that Iran revealed last week is illegal and likely intended for military purposes.
"I think that certainly the intelligence people have no doubt that … this is an illicit nuclear facility, if only … because the Iranians kept it a secret," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
"If they wanted it for peaceful nuclear purposes, there's no reason to put it so deep underground, no reason to be deceptive about it, keep it a … secret for a protracted period of time," Gates said.
In a separate interview broadcast Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called for the strongest possible sanctions if Iran can't prove a peaceful intent for the newly disclosed facility and its entire nuclear program.
"It would have been disclosed if it were for peaceful purposes," Clinton said, adding: "The Iranians keep insisting no, no, that's for peaceful purposes. That's fine. Prove it. Don't assert it. Prove it."
(CNN) - Embattled New York Gov. David Paterson vowed Sunday he won't give in to White House pressure to drop out of next year's election, insisting, "I am not failing to stand up for my party."
Speaking to NBC's "Meet the Press," the governor - facing approval ratings below 20 percent - said "there are a lot of people who have told me not to run."
"I'm blind but I'm not oblivious," he said. "I realize that there are people who don't want me to run."
Paterson, the nation's first legally blind governor, said, "I have spent a whole life being told I couldn't do things. I was told by guidance counselors I shouldn't go to college."
"I was told, when I was minority leader of the Senate, that we couldn't win the majority. We won eight seats in four years and won the majority." Paterson also noted that a court his week upheld his appointment of a lieutenant governor, disproving those who said it would not be upheld. The message to him, Paterson said, "was that you don't give up."
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, that the revelation late last week by the United States of a previously undisclosed Iranian nuclear facility set the stage for tough and possibly productive discussions between the U.S., Iran, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China set to begin October 1.
“I think the P-5-plus-1 meeting that is set up this week is the right venue,” the Tennessee Republican told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “I think the table couldn't be set better for that meeting. . . . I think we should be very tough on them.
“The fact is, the world community is now, I think, more united than ever to confront Iran. And this is information we've had for some time. I think making it public this week and Iran actually coming forward and saying that it was true certainly turns the table. And I think we have a tremendous opportunity for the first time in a long time for a breakthrough.”
Corker was agreeing with Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who also said Sunday the United States should take a tough approach with Iran.
On the eve of talks, Bayh advocated for “more sticks, frankly, at this moment than carrots” in dealing with Iran.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledges that closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will likely take longer than planned.
"I think it has proven more complicated than ... anticipated," Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Noting he had pushed for a firm deadline of closing the controversial facility in January 2010, Gates said: "If you have to extend that date, if at least you have a strong plan showing you're making progress in that direction, then this - it shouldn't be a problem to extend it and we'll just see whether that has to happen or not."
In a separate interview on the ABC program "This Week," Gates said closing the military prison on schedule would be "tough."
Also on ABC, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said he attended briefings in which he was told the Guantanamo facility was unlikely to close on schedule.
"Apparently they're certainly not going to make that deadline," McCain said. "But we should continue to work towards the closure of Guantanamo Bay because of the image that it has in the world of brutality, (which) harms our image very badly."