Gates plays down suggestions that Obama’s opposition to Iraq surge was political

“What I say in the book was that the president conceded a lot of opposition to the surge had been political,” Gates said on NBC’s “Today” show during a promotional tour for his book, “Duty,” which will go on sale Tuesday. “He never said that his opposition had been political. And, in fact, his opposition was consistent with his opposition to the war all along.”…

The president refrained from criticizing Gates during his first public remarks on the book Monday, defending his administration’s Afghanistan policy and saying that “war is never easy.”

“What’s important is that we got the policy right, but that this is hard, and it always has been,” the president said during remarks at the White House. “Whenever you’ve got men and women that you’re sending into harm’s way, after having already made enormous investments of blood and treasure in another country, then part of your job as commander in chief is to sweat the details on it.”

Obama said that Gates “was an outstanding secretary of defense, a good friend of mine, and I’ll always be grateful for his service.”