On MSNBC Live, discussing political diversity in President-elect Barack Obama's administration, Jonathan Allen said that Obama had chosen “Robert Gates as defense secretary, and that's something that I think [Obama's] people will point to.” Tamron Hall responded, “Gates is not a registered Republican.” Hall did not note that Gates himself has said, “I felt, when I was at CIA, that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical, and so I didn't register with a party. I consider myself a Republican,” and noted that until his selection by Obama, “all of my senior appointments have been under Republican presidents.”
On the December 16 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Tamron Hall suggested that even though President-elect Barack Obama had pledged to have a politically diverse administration, he had not yet named any Republicans to his Cabinet. After Congressional Quarterly reporter Jonathan Allen said that Obama had chosen “Robert Gates as defense secretary, and that's something that I think [Obama's] people will point to,” Hall responded, “Gates is not a registered Republican.” However, Hall did not mention that when Gates was asked to “clear up” the question of his party registration at a December 2 Pentagon press conference, he explained: “I felt, when I was at CIA, that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical, and so I didn't register with a party.” He then stated, “I consider myself a Republican,” and noted that until his selection by Obama, “all of my senior appointments have been under Republican presidents.”
From the 4 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on December 16:
HALL: And President-elect Barack Obama talked about that team of rivals from all different backgrounds. Well, does Obama need to pick any card-carrying Republicans for his administration?
HALL: Well, let me ask you about some of the other news today. President-elect Barack Obama took a lot of questions about the [Gov. Rod] Blagojevich [D-IL] mess, but he also took some questions about not having Republicans as nominees so far for his Cabinet. Here's what he had to say to a reporter who asked him about it.
OBAMA [video clip]: I'm not giving you a preview. We've got some more appointments to make, and I think that when you look at our entire White House staff and Cabinet and our various appointments, I think people will feel that we followed through on our commitment to make sure that this is not only a administration that is diverse ethnically, but it's also diverse politically and it's diverse in terms of people's life experience.
HALL: So, Jonathan, he made a commitment, but how does he make sure it doesn't come off as if he's looking for a couple of token Republicans?
ALLEN: I think it's getting harder and harder to do that because so many of the high-profile Cabinet picks have been made. I mean, he's down to the labor secretary and the transportation secretary, the U.S. trade representative. Obviously, he's got Robert Gates as defense secretary, and that's something that I think his people will point to when --
HALL: But he's not a registered Republican.
ALLEN: -- this process is over.
HALL: Gates is not a registered Republican.
ALLEN: Right. One of the things that President-elect Obama did not say is that he would have a diversity of partisanship. He said diversity -- diversity politically. And they certainly have a team of rivals. I mean, one secretary has called the other, or at least someone in her camp, called the other “Judas.” And, I mean, there's a political diversity there --
ALLEN: -- but not necessarily partisan diversity. We'll see. He's got a few more picks to make, and he may make some appointments to White House jobs that don't currently exist.