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Obama Intends to Ask Gates to Stay: Source
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama intends to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to remain at the Pentagon when his new administration takes office, a senior Democratic source said on Tuesday.
"He intends to ask Gates to stay," the Democrat said, adding that he believed it was likely he would. He said the talks had advanced to a point where Gates was discussing which of his team to keep in place under the Obama administration.
Politico had earlier reported on its website that Gates would stay on in his job and that Obama would appoint retired Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser.
One source familiar with the selection process tells NBC News that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will remain on the job at the Pentagon for at least a year. "That's been a done deal for sometime," according to the sources. "No other name has been seriously floated as a possible candidate."
The deal was sealed for Gates when former Marine Corps Candidate Jim Jones was mentioned as the probable candidate for National Security Adviser, and former Admiral Dennis Blair was named as the likely pick for Director of National Intelligence, according to one source.
"That's a dream team that Gates could clearly work with," the source said.
Two other sources involved or familiar with the process said, as of yesterday, Gates was all but certain.
"It was the formula all along," according to one source, that Gates would stay in the Pentagon, retain a small number of his personal staff while a Democrat, appointed by Obama as Deputy Defense Secretary, would put together the remainder of the top staff.
According to officials close to Gates, to avoid being labeled a "lame duck," he asked that a specific timetable not be attached to his term, but something more loosely defined, such as "under 4 years."