Obama Likely to Keep Gates at Defense

But Bush secretary opposes setting a timeline to leave Iraq
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Nov 11, 2008 10:10 AM CST
Barack Obama sits with with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on a helicopter in Jerusalem. He pledged to preserve the close ties between the US and Israel.   (AP Photo/Israeli Defense Ministry, HO)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama is considering asking Robert Gates to stay on as defense secretary, advisers tell the Wall Street Journal. Gates, considered a competent and nonpartisan pragmatist, was brought on to patch things up after Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure at the Pentagon. But while Gates, like Obama, supports an increased presence in Afghanistan, he opposes a commitment to withdraw from Iraq by 2010—a key campaign promise.

Gates was confirmed in 2006 by a Senate impressed with his forthrightness in saying the US was not winning in Iraq. And once in the post, he presided over the troop increase. By retaining Gates, observers say, Obama would be seeking to strengthen his image as a nonpartisan leader interested in results.