Rumor mill keeps Reed in defense secretary mix

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he will step down at some point before the end of this year – and no matter what he says publicly, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed apparently hasn’t convinced insiders to stop suggesting he could be Gates’ successor.

The latest example comes from Politico, which throws Reed into the mix today:

The information vacuum has created a standing game of defense secretary roulette in Washington’s national security circles, where almost any potential name can seem like a sure thing or a long shot, depending on the day and the person offering it. One roster of potential candidates includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has said she is not interested; Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent; Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat; Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; and John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former deputy secretary of defense in the Clinton administration.

But just because some people are floating Reed’s name doesn’t mean he’s looking to take the job. The senator, who usually brushes aside these reports, said as much in September, the last time I asked him about SecDef rumors:

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed has ruled out becoming President Barack Obama’s defense secretary once and for all – not that he ever said anything otherwise.

“I am committed to serving the people of Rhode Island as their senator, and, as such, I am not interested in being Secretary of Defense,” Reed said in a statement sent to Eyewitness News a short time ago.

(A Beltway-based Nesi’s Notes reader pointed out to me that if Reed became defense secretary and Tom Donilon continued as national security adviser, La Salle Academy would be more or less singularly responsible for America’s national defense.)

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