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Robert Gibbs: Hagel "Seemed Unimpressive And Unprepared"

TODD: Robert.

MR. ROBERT GIBBS (Fmr. White House Press Secretary, 2009-2011/Fmr. Senior Adviser, Obama 2012 Re-Election Campaign): No, let’s be clear. I mean if you--

TODD: Well, it was not-- this was-- this performance was not good.

MR. GIBBS: Let’s split this into two things because I want to build off something that Ana just said. If you turned on C-SPAN and hadn’t watched TV in the intervening six years, you’d think we’d had 150 thousand troops parked right now in Iraq. The next defense secretary is not going to deal with Iraq and the surge. This was a vanity thing for John McCain to try to prove to a former friend who disagreed with him that he was right on the surge and that Chuck Hagel was wrong.

TODD: What should Hagel have said? What would you have told Chuck Hagel to say in response?

MR. GIBBS: I-- I think he said correctly, we’re going to let history judge Iraq, because quite frankly Chuck Hagel could have said, you know, Senator McCain, I think I might have been wrong on Iraq. Were you wrong on Iraq? Here’s the question. None of that is-- none of that is anything that the next secretary of defense is going to deal with. But hold on. Let’s split this into two buckets. So there was the totally superfluous questions that quite frankly-- again, not going to bear a big measure on what the next defense secretary does. The-- the disconcerting thing obviously that, for anybody to watch, it was he seemed unimpressive and unprepared on the questions that quite frankly he knew was coming. (Meet the Press, February 3, 2013)

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