Former Obama adviser David Axelrod pushed back Wednesday against former Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ new memoir, in particular its criticism of President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan and Iraq policy.
In the memoir, Gates describes a March 2011 meeting where Obama voiced his frustration with policy in Afghanistan. “As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Gates wrote, as quoted by the Washington Post. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
Axelrod told “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer that he was “surprised” by Gates’ account, because he had thought the former defense secretary and the President had a good working relationship.
“His big complaint is that he thinks that [Obama] wasn’t sufficiently, personally in his heart committed enough to his own strategy, and I don’t think that’s true,” he said.
Lauer then brought up another account from the memoir, in which Gates suggested that Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opposed a troop surge in Iraq to score political points, and asked whether Axelrod questioned Gates’ credibility.
“I’m not suggesting that he made things up to sell a book, but I think the language that he used, for example on that Iraq story, was vague and it was subjective,” Axelrod said. “There was no declaration on the President’s part that he made that decision on a political basis.”
Watch below, courtesy of NBC:
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.