COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates took the tour of his tell-all book Tuesday to Texas A&M University, where he formerly served as president, telling a crowd of 2,000 people that he was hamstrung by a dysfunctional and polarized Washington too intent on micromanaging and getting re-elected.
Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush were among the more than 2,000 people in the audience for the speech.
Gates served four years as the school’s president before President George W. Bush tapped him in December 2006 to oversee the Pentagon. Gates then was the lone Bush cabinet holdover when Barack Obama won the White House.
He left in July 2011 after fearing his determination to protect troops he sent to Iraq and Afghanistan “was clouding my judgment and diminishing my use to the president,” Gates said.
His book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” raises questions about Obama’s war leadership, and is critical of Vice President Joe Biden and some congressional leaders.
“I had a good run as secretary, so I don’t have any bitterness at all,” Gates told reporters before an hour-long address and appearance sponsored by the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation. “As critical as I am of some people, I actually liked those people and had cordial relationships.”
He said the only thing he missed about the job was “interaction with folks in uniform.” While defense chief, he said his way to energize himself and lift his spirits “was ironically to leave Washington and go to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“I would regain strength and regain sense of purpose just being around these amazing people in uniform. … The rest of this, I think, thanks to this book, I never have to worry about going back to Washington.”
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