Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he's not "expecting" to be named President Obama's next secretary of Defense, but wouldn't rule out taking that job, either.

Lieberman, a hawkish centrist Democrat who on Wednesday said he'd retire rather than seek reelection in 2012, said he wasn't necessarily looking to succeed Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"I'm not expecting anything, I'm not asking for anything," Lieberman said on MSNBC.

Lieberman's longtime friend and colleague, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), suggested that Lieberman would be a good replacement for Gates, who has himself said he'd retire sometime this year. If Obama were to choose Lieberman, he might have an easy time winning Senate confirmation and represent a degree of continuity in policy at the Pentagon.

The Connecticut Independent said he was "honored" by McCain's suggestion, but that he didn't know what he'd be doing after leaving office.

That included his involvement in the race to replace him as senator, Lieberman said. An Independent who caucuses with Democrats, Lieberman wouldn't commit yet to endorsing a candidate in any party.

"My mind is open. It's going to be a lively race. there's going to be a lot of interesting candidates coming in in both parties," he said. "I'm going to watch and see what happens, and then decide who's the best candidate."