December 2nd, 2008
05:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Gates, a lifelong spy, reveals two secrets in press briefing

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama wants Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Washington is full of seemingly obscure places where history is made. Deep Throat's parking garage, the balcony at Ford's Theater. Now you can add the fire station at Reagan National Airport.

That's where President-elect Barack Obama met secretly with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discuss the unprecedented idea of having Gates continue on in the Obama administration.

Reporters traveling with Obama on November 10 knew that he'd gone into the airport fire station after his visit with President Bush at the White House. What they never knew was who he was meeting in the fire station.

Tuesday at a briefing at the Pentagon, Gates spilled the beans.

"We did meet the day he came to Washington to meet with the President. We met when he went back to the airport. We actually met in the fire station at National Airport and they pulled the trucks out so that our cars could go in."

Earlier in the briefing Gates solved another mystery – whether he is indeed a Republican. It's long been suspected that he was a Republican, he's donate to party causes before and served for Republican presidents.

When a reporter asked his party affiliation, Gates said he considers himself a Republican, but not a registered one.

"I felt when I was at CIA that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical," Gates said Tuesday. "And so I didn't register with a party."

So how does a man who considers himself a Republican feel about working for the leader of the Democratic party?

"You know, the president-elect will be the eighth president I've worked for, and all I can say is I look forward to it," Gates said.

Filed under: Robert Gates
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Texas Teacher

    I'm rather speechless.... I don't know what to think of this story! 🙂

    And finding the old Texas Teacher speechless is no easy feat! *LOL*

    I had a good feeling about this man when we saw him with Obama's new cabinet members yesterday. That much I know. 🙂

    December 2, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. Kel

    Gates is much shorter than I imagined him to be. I guess James Bond or Ethan Hawke in real life isn't that handsome. 😛

    December 2, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Steve NY

    Daggone Obama is shady.

    December 2, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  4. ron

    Well I guess Obama's pick of Gates is his post election affirmation that McCain was in fact reight when he said the Surge (Gates and Company) was a success and we should not just pull out of Iraq and call it quits. I wish Obama could just be man enough to come out and say it. Hillary as Sec State represents a back room deal with Bill Clinton that he had to make in order to get support for the election. Obama is a pawn...thats all.

    December 2, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Retard Ron

    To the morons who keep asking "is this really news?", you should pay attention to all the "breaking news" alerts that CNN/MSN/Every other online media outlet put on their sites on a daily basis. **Breaking news**-Obama picks ______ as Secretary of _______–**Breaking news**-Obama picks his nose. It is all quite retarded. Yes, I said retarded. Get over it, PC punks.

    December 2, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. Rob

    Did BHO really have a choice here ? All the eligible dems had already badmouthed the milatary to the point none of the would ever have the respect from our nations forces that is needed to carry out the position.

    December 2, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. donthaveone

    submit comment. Would this be a good article?)>

    December 2, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  8. bk

    i salute ya

    December 2, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  9. Loki

    I think that this is a good choice, as he has served for 8 other Pres, and 1 more couldn't hurt. As to the political standpoint, I don't really care. He looks like he could be a good choice, no matter if he's CIA or anyother organization we're not supposed to talk about. He seems like a good choice, and that's what I believe!

    December 2, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  10. Sarah

    Looks like another meeting of the bitter club convenes at CNN's comment section tonight.

    December 2, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. John Lubeck

    Robert Gates is probably the single and only individual with integrity in the entire Bush administration and will hopefully do a superb job now that he has some real leadership. (There were hopes that Michael Mukasey also had integrity but they've been dashed.)

    December 2, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. John Lubeck

    And, by the way to "O.G." – "Are you saying that OBAMA agrees with President BUSH about something?"

    You have a very short attention span (or more likely a very low IQ). Remember Donald Rumsfield was finally ejected for his complete incompetence and George Bush had no choice based on the outcry than to get a real individual with real intelligence and real credentials instead of yet another Republican Yes-(Wo)/man

    December 2, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  13. Oregon Calling

    Now that it totally cool 🙂

    December 2, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. Mobius

    Obama is a master of this – he did the same thing when he snuck off to meet with Bilderberg and Hillary. Nice transparency in gov't.

    December 2, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Ben Patrick Johnson

    While we may never achieve an American government truly free of partisan quarreling and agenda-squashing, the fact that Obama has reached across the aisle for such a key appointment - for the first time time in history - portends well for this administration.

    I don't think CNN is making a big deal out of puffery this time. While some posters are correct that the parade of "Breaking News: Obama picks _______ for Secretary of ______" has become a bit played, this appointment is indeed a biggie and deserves to be appreciated for its historical and political significance. I feel CNN is being long-sighted in giving it expanded attention.

    December 2, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |

    Y A W N

    Really, CNN. Really. Insecure much? Relax, would you? We won't abandon you for FAUX/FOX NOISE/NEWS just because sophomoric and misleading article headlines are put on the ticker.


    December 2, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. J.C.

    Thanks to President-elect Obama for keeping Secretary Gates!

    December 2, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  18. New Yorker

    Dr. Mimi – you are speaking to the wrong "gentlemen". Perhaps you should make your suggestions to the radical Islamists.

    December 2, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  19. Larry

    Is he telling the truth ???So much for transparency in the Obama administration--actually , I am vary glad,good choice!!!

    December 2, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  20. No Hillary = No Obama

    Continuing Gates = Continuing the Bush wars

    December 2, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  21. Jen, Cali

    Whaaattt? I don't get it - but I'm sure Obama does! It's the sort of convolluted stuff he gets!!!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  22. Jen, Cali

    Texas Teacher December 2nd, 2008 8:18 pm ET
    . . . finding the old Texas Teacher speechless is no easy feat! . . .


    YES, IT IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  23. _sKiLL

    Obama, go meet him at Starbucks. What's on the menu and stale? Russia and Venezuela Lemonada Loaf Cake for $1.99. Get a new guy who really knows what's going on before horrible things happen!

    December 2, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  24. Sub Vert

    Oh oh. Looks like the DC airport "fire station" just got outed. It's been the perfect covert meeting place for years. You didn't think the POTUS elect just walks into any building and holds a meeting, did you? Oh well, they'll have to turn it into a Hooters.

    December 2, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  25. Barack

    I love CNN. I'll have good night's sleep now that I know Sec. Gates is a republican and he met with President-elect at a fire station

    December 2, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
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