Gates Continues His Rounds on Capitol Hill

By: Steve Fullhart/CBS News
By: Steve Fullhart/CBS News

It's closing in on crunch time for Texas A&M President Robert Gates as his confirmation hearings in Washington approach.

The nominee for Secretary of Defense made the rounds on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon, meeting with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd.

"Mr. Gates has a very distinguished background," said Kennedy (D-Massachusetts). "This is an enormously appointment, and I think all Americans are going to be tuned into those hearings we're going to have next week."

"He's very capable, no question about that," said Byrd (D-West Virginia). "He has the qualifications. I will make up my mind as we go along, but I don't start out with any minuses on the ledger."

The hearings begin December 5. A vote could come as early as the following week.

Gates is President Bush's nominee after the decision was made that Donald Rumsfeld would no longer hold the position. That announcement came on November 8.


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