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Ashton Carter leading candidate for Defense Secretary

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the leading candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, according to sources familiar with President Obama's selection process. The White House has been very circumspect about this, and a senior administration official told CBS News that top senators have not been informed that Carter is the pick.

Other candidates, like the current deputy defense secretary, Bob Work, are still being considered. The president has not yet made a final decision.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to confirm or deny reports that Carter was the president's choice for the job, but he praised Ashton Carter Tuesday afternoon, saying he had filled the deputy defense secretary position "very, very ably." He also commended Carter's detailed understanding of the Defense Department and joked that he personally supports deputies moving up to top job (Earnest was elevated from deputy press secretary to press secretary after Jay Carney left).

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