(CNN) – Republicans were quick last week to use former Defense Secretary Bob Gates' new book as ammunition against Hillary Clinton should she decided to run for president again.
But when asked if he thinks the former secretary of state would make a good president, Gates gave an answer that Clinton opponents will likely leave out of future attack ads.
In his memoir, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Gates writes that Clinton told President Barack Obama that she opposed the 2007 troop surge in Iraq for political reasons because she was running against him in the Iowa presidential caucuses at the time.
“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political,” Gates writes. “To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”
While Clinton's critics quickly pounced on the admission, Gates otherwise praised Clinton throughout the book.
“I found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world," he writes.
Gates was not as complimentary about Vice President Joe Biden, however.
Although Gates calls Biden “a man of integrity,” he writes, “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Asked in the interview Sunday if he thinks Biden would also make a good president, Gates was more diplomatic in his response.
"Well, I suppose to be even-handed, I would have to say I suppose he would," he said, laughing.