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Bush Praises Defense Secretary Nominee on Morning of Confirmation Hearing

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2006 – President Bush gave a hearty endorsement to defense secretary nominee Robert M. Gates today, on the morning of Gates’ U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.

Speaking at the White House after having breakfast with Gates, Bush said Gates “will be a fine secretary of Defense” and said he hopes for a speedy confirmation “so he can get sworn in and get to work.”

“Best of luck up there on Capitol Hill,” Bush told Gates. “Good luck to you.”

The president thanked Gates for agreeing to serve and said he’ll be a strong leader for the Department of Defense and U.S. military. “Those who wear the uniform know they'll have a friend in Bob Gates in the Defense Department,” Bush said. “He admires our military; he respects those who have volunteered to serve our country.”

Once confirmed, Gates is “going to do an excellent job for us,” Bush said.

Bush announced Nov. 8 that he would nominate Gates to succeed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the top Pentagon post.

“Bob is a proven leader who has served six presidents -- four Republicans and two Democrats,” Bush said on the day of the nomination. “As a former CIA director and the current president of Texas A&M University, he has experience leading large and complex organizations, and he has shown that he is an agent of change. As secretary of defense, he will provide a fresh outlook on our strategy in Iraq and what we need to do to prevail.”

The president also praised Rumsfeld, the longest-serving member of his Cabinet, who will be the longest-serving secretary of defense when he steps down after Gates’ confirmation.

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Donald H. Rumsfeld
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