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

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CLINTON: Mr. Rumsfeld, because this Secretary would actually answer questions, he would express his opinion. He was extremely straightforward, and I welcomed that. So although I didn't know him personally until we started serving together, I had observed him on several occasions and believed that he was a straightforward, Midwesterner who could, you know, get to the heart of an issue and stake a claim as to what he thought was the right thing to do. I admire that.

McFADDEN: Because you do understand from a distance, you look at the two of you and you say, maybe not so much. Besides the Midwestern thing, we've got a Republican, we've got a Democrat, we've got a guy who's married to a woman who can't stand politics, we've got a woman who's married to a guy who most days likes politics!

[laughter]

CLINTON: Yeah, but Cynthia, part of the experience of working with someone is to get beyond all of that. I mean the caricatures and the stereotypes, the superficial kinds of characterization, and what I know about Bob Gates is that he's a real patriot. He loves our country and that's how I feel about myself. I mean I took the job I have in part because I felt like when your president asks you to serve, you should serve. This man has spent the better part of his life serving our country. So I am not in any way surprised that we have developed a good working relationship, because despite what are, from my perspective, superficial differences, we we both have a highly developed responsibility gene! And we have a long history of service, and we approach this job with a great deal of seriousness.

GATES: I'd make a couple of other points. I think we both recognize that many of the challenges we face require what we call a whole of government approach. And that means the State Department and the Defense Department above all have to work together. And that signal has to be sent from the top, and if the people who work for us know that we get along and work cooperatively with one another, even when we come at problems from a different perspective, it radiates through the entire bureaucracy. And so the people who work for every cabinet secretary who come in every day trying to set their hair on fire, there's some other cabinet officer has just committed some egregious sin and and therefore we ought to, you know, set the whole place on fire. Once they realize that's not career enhancing, that well that doesn't sound like Hillary's told me, I'll just pick up the phone and call her. And then all of a sudden they realize. And so that that becomes I think also very important.

McFADDEN: In the new Woodward book, the two of you are referred to as 'blocks of granite'...

CLINTON: I didn't know that!

GATES: [laughter]

McFADDEN: Do you plead guilty?

CLINTON: I have no idea! I don't know. Is that a compliment?

McFADDEN: I'm asking you! Two of the five blocks of granite in terms of the setting Afghanistan policy, and if the books is to be believed, really pushing President Obama toward increasing troop strength in Afghanistan.

GATES: Let me just put it this way. I found the review that we went through a year ago really useful and important.

McFADDEN: Because?

GATES: Because I learned some things. I adjusted some positions. I changed my views on some things in the course of that . . .

McFADDEN: . . . What? . . .

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