September 23rd, 2010
04:32 PM ET
4 years ago

Another Obama admin departure, this one with date uncertain

Washington (CNN) – He wants to leave next year. That much he has said. But the former spy chief and current Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been coy about the when.

But Thursday, a few clues to and lines to read between.


Gates spoke to reporters at a Pentagon news conference on Thursday and was asked about a comment he made to Foreign Policy magazine that the best time for him to leave his job would be 2011.

At the press conference, Gates said the reasoning for 2011 was all about the politics. He said President Barack Obama would have a much harder time finding someone with only one year left in his term would be a "difficult challenge."

"It also seemed to me that having a confirmation process in the early spring of 2012 in the middle of a presidential election year is probably not the wisest thing either. So that was my rationale," Gates explained.

Asked if he would want to just stay until the end of Obama's first term, Gates was pretty clear he didn't want to.

"Not in my thinking," he said.

But a 2011 departure raises the issue of timing. The president has already said he wants to begin drawing down some of the 30,000 troops just added to the Afghanistan war in July 2011. So would Gates stay to help make the decision if such a drawdown is possible?

He'd rather not say but he has decided.

"Yes, I've made up my mind."

Of course, Gates has wanted to leave before and been quite vocal about it in the hopes that he wouldn't be asked to stay. The strategy didn't work last time. He said he didn't want to stay past former president George W. Bush's term. But alas, he was asked by Obama to stay on and he did.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Adam

    Its all been so painful they all are leaving. Believe me we feel your pain as it cannot be soon enough we get new leaders in Washington. Gates should have never left Texas A&M.

    September 23, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Gates is an honorable man and not at quitter. He was asked to stay by President Obama knowing the President could have replaced him and he will.

    September 23, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. Monster Zero

    There is only ONE name that I can't wait to see jump this sinking ship, and I believe that name is BARRACK HUSSEIN OBAMA. If the name fits, wear it....

    September 23, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    Good riddance Bush appointee...

    September 23, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. joe

    All you liberals out there. What is going on??? All the rats are deserting the ship before it ships. They want nothing to do with this guy and his legacy. Alexrod is next, Rahm will be soon. Doesnt that say something about your great leader Obama??? Everyone in the Budget office isleaving. You know why– they see him as a dictator and absolutely not open to change of what he wants__prime example the tx cuts. They all realize it cannot be done now. IN two years yes but not now. In his soclialist view he will not change and save the country. He will sink it.......

    September 23, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  6. Steve (the real one)

    So many quitters! Shouldn't hear one more peep from any liberals about Paliin again. Not counting Gates, you liberals must be close to setting a record when it comes to quitters, ship jumpers or whatever you want to call them!

    September 23, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |