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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado (CNN) - No matter who winds up being the next president, he is likely to "take a sensible approach" to the Iraq war, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told CNN in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
"Based on what I read in the newspapers, I think either person who is elected president is going to come in and take a close look at it," Gates said of the situation in Iraq.
The two presumptive nominees for the major political parties - Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama - have greatly differing positions on the war in Iraq.
McCain supports President Bush's current strategy and has said he is willing to continue the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq until the country has reached a level of political stability.
Obama, on the other hand, has vowed to begin a withdrawal of combat troops almost immediately after he would take office in January, if he wins this fall.
The defense chief also said the next president would receive the blame if the "endgame" is not handled correctly.
"I've said repeatedly we can't get the endgame wrong. The next president would suffer the greatest consequences if we do get the endgame wrong, so I think whoever's elected is likely to take a fairly sensible approach to it," he said.