PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Leon Panetta is a fan of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense.
The former secretary of defense praised James Mattis during a taped interview for CBS’ “Face the Nation.” The interview was conducted before Trump announced Thursday night that he was nominating Mattis.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Officer Injured After Being Dragged By Vehicle During Traffic Stop: Police
“I like Jim Mattis a lot,” Panetta said. “He’s a tough general, spoke the truth, was a good adviser. I trusted his defense judgment. And so I think he’s got, you know, a lot of qualities that are important to a secretary of defense job.”
While kicking off his “Thank you” tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday night, Trump stunned his own aides when he announced the Mattis pick from the stage. Mattis, nicknamed “Mad Dog,” is considered one of the foremost strategic thinkers of his generation, but to gain confirmation as Pentagon chief, he would need Congress to waive a requirement that a defense secretary be a civilian for at least seven years before taking up the post.
Mattis retired as chief of the U.S. Central Command in 2013 after serving more than four decades in the Marine Corps. There is no sense of strong opposition to his nomination in Congress.
“We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense,” Trump told the crowd, calling Mattis “one of our great, great generals.”READ MORE: Red Cross Assisting Family After Overnight Fire In Moorestown, New Jersey
Panetta told “Face the Nation” that Mattis needs to be pressed during his confirmation hearing whether he understands the civilian perspective a Pentagon chief needs.
“I do think that it’s important for Congress to talk with him, if he is nominated, to make sure that he also understands the civilian perspective,” Panetta said. “Because I think it’s important to have that when you become secretary.”
Panetta added that the secretary of defense needs to understand “political issues” before heading into the job.
“It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a military background,” he said. “I think that, you know, that is important to have that background. But at the same time, in those jobs, you’ve got to exercise the ability to understand political issues, to deal with broader issues that involve your capability to relate to the American people. And so yes, you know, having a strong defense background is important. But it’s also important to be able to have that ability to understand the civilian side of that job, because both are involved as secretary of defense.”
Panetta was the former director of the CIA and secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Police Officer Has Strong Message For Son's Killers After Hyram Hill Killed In Targeted Shooting
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