Robert Gates "Amused" by "Draft Gates" Effort, but no Plans to Run in 2012

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, front,walks past India's Defense Minister Shri AK Antony, rear, from left to right, China's Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, Cambodia's Defense Minister Tea Banh and Brunei's Deputy Defense Minister Mustappa Sirat before before the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting Plus at the National Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday October 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Kham, Pool)
AP Photo
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
AP Photo

The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Robert Gates has no plans to seek the presidency in 2012 - though Gates is flattered by the "Draft Gates" effort that has popped up online.

"Secretary Gates is both amused and flattered by the website, but he will retire from government for good later this year," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told CNN. "He has never run for any political office and has no intention of ever doing so. He looks forward to following the 2012 presidential campaign from his home in the Pacific northwest."

Gates, who is 67, said last year he planned to retire in 2011.

"I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012," he told Foreign Policy, adding: "This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year."

President Obama asked Gates, who became secretary of defense in 2006, to stay in the job after the 2008 election in order to maintain continuity in the war efforts.

Gates identifies as a Republican. He has played down his party affiliation while serving as defense secretary, however, as he did when he was a professional intelligence officer; he says that those in such positions "should be apolitical."

The Draft Gates website says Gates should run for president because he embodies "the principles of statesmanship, integrity, pragmatism, diplomacy, and selfless service to fellow man."

"He stands out from his peers in his steadfast commitment to state and country, his pursuit of excellence, and willingness to do what is right and not just what is easy," the site says. "Granted, he seems to have neither the ego nor the inclination to throw his hat in that particular ring. But that is precisely why our next president must be him."

Another member of the Obama administration, Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, appears to be seriously considering challenging the president in 2012.