Transcript: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Speak to Cynthia McFadden


GATES: I think we have a very compatible view of the world. But I would just in terms of the question that you put to Hillary, I think my my approach has been shaped very much by the fact that I spent almost nine years on the National Security Council staff under four different presidents. And I would see the inter-agency bickering, and every now and then I'd say at a meeting, you know, there for a moment I thought we all worked for the same government. And I came out of that experience believing that a president was very badly served by senior members of the government who bicker and quarrel with each other, and particularly in public. And I think the starting point is the Secretary of Defense acknowledging that the Secretary of State is the principal spokesperson for American foreign policy. And so we have our role, but the Secretary of State has her role. I think acknowledging that, because a lot of the time in the past where I have seen this conflict, and it's been more characteristic than not, going back a long time of conflict, I think it's because the Secretary of Defense has been unwilling to sort of see this division of labor within the government.

CLINTON: You know, with Bob's extensive experience in government and in different positions, because obviously he was in the White House, he was at the CIA, he's now at the Defense Department, he's developed this perspective of trying to cut through the shaft, I mean get to the meat of the matter, figure out what it is we're trying to accomplish, what our goals are, what's the best way of getting there. And it's not that we agree on everything, but we come to our internal debate with a respect for the other person and an understanding of the institutional prerogatives that we both each represent. So for me, it's been a particular particular pleasure to work with him.

McFADDEN: So I want to go back before you all become so kumbaya with each other.

CLINTON: [laughter]

McFADDEN: Like alright, so you got appointed first, right?

CLINTON: No, he was there

McFADDEN: Well but no, but Obama -- had the President asked you to stay at the point?

GATES: We were actually all announced the same day.

CLINTON: Yeah, yeah . . .

GATES: . . . In Chicago . . .

McFADDEN: And so when you heard she was Secretary of State, you thought, because you didn't really know each other...


McFADDEN: What did you think? What was the first thing that went through your head?

GATES: I thought it was going to be interesting, you know, because all I knew of Hillary was what I'd seen on TV . . .

McFADDEN: . . . And what did you think? . . .

GATES: . . . and so on.

McFADDEN: Tough?

GATES: Yeah.

McFADDEN: Smart?

GATES: Yeah. But somebody who also was very effective at communicating.


CLINTON: Well, I had been on the Armed Services committee, so I had the experience of sitting on the other side of the table from Bob when he came to testify as Secretary of Defense. And it was such a change from his predecessor . . .

McFADDEN: . . . Mr. Rumsfeld??

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