By Jeremy Herb - 01/12/14 09:37 AM EST
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an interview broadcast Sunday said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, mulling a 2016 presidential run, would make a good commander in chief.
“Actually, I think she would,” Gates said on CBS “This Morning” when asked about Clinton.
“Well, I suppose, to be even-handed, I would have to say I suppose he would,” Gates said.
In his memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Gates gives accounts that could be harmful to both Clinton and Biden.
Gates, a Republican, has plenty of praise for Clinton in the book, but he also says that she opposed the 2007 surge in Iraq for political reasons, because she was about to run against then-Sen. Barack Obama, who had opposed the Iraq War from the start.
He was much harsher on Biden, accusing him of being wrong on every foreign policy decision for the last 40 years.
In his first television interview since excerpts of his book were released last week, Gates said on CBS that he did not regret publishing his memoir while President Obama is still in office and the U.S. military is still in Afghanistan.
“You have to look at the entirety of the book, and the fact it deals with getting into wars, getting out of wars,” Gates said. “And frankly, it seemed to me with my experience and perspective of working for two presidents and having been secretary for 4 1/2 years, I didn’t think that waiting until 2017 to weigh in on these issues, and in a comprehensive and thoughtful way, made any sense.”
Gates said that he felt the reaction to the book — which is not officially released until Tuesday — reflects the polarization of the political process in Washington.
“A lot of people are looking at this book in terms, how does it advance my particular political agenda, or how does damage my political agenda,” Gates said. “My objective was to stand back and try to provide a nonpartisan look at the kind of issues that have lived in our country and live in our government for the last number of years.”