Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates insisted late last week that, book excerpts notwithstanding, he actually had a great rapport with President Obama. His evidence? Obama really, really wanted him to stay on board at the Pentagon.
Talking to NPR on Friday in an interview that aired Monday, Gates suggested that the media has mischaracterized him as being “very critical of President Obama” in his memoir, “Duty.” To support his point, Gates recalled Obama’s efforts to retain him as defense secretary.
But the truth is we had a very good personal relationship. We discussed our differences openly. He was always civil and kind to me, gave me a lot of trust and confidence.
And I think that, you know, we – when I first interviews with him, we talked about maybe my staying a year. And then he asked me to stay longer. And in my retirement ceremony, I talked about the fact that he had asked me to stay on and on and on. And even in the spring of 2011, when we had had these differences over the budget and so on, he was still urging to stay on until the end of the first term. So we had a very – a very positive personal relationship. And as I say, he was eager for me to stay even longer and basically made clear I could stay as long as I wanted.
Gates wrote in the book that that he was troubled by Obama’s approach to the war in Afghanistan. He also argued that Vice President Joe Biden has been “wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”