From NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube
Despite the fact that in the past he has flatly denied he will stick around for the next administration, today Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was not quite as strong in his denial.
"I am planning and expecting to return to the Pacific Northwest 173 days from today," Gates said with a smile.
When reminded that that is not exactly a denial, Gates said simply, "I'll just leave it at that."
In February of this year, a reporter for the New York Times Magazine asked Gates if he would consider staying on in the next administration, to which he replied, "The circumstances under which I would do that are inconceivable to me."
Later in today's briefing, a reporter asked how Gates is able to come up with the precise number of days before he is scheduled to leave the Pentagon. Gates replied, "I'm paying attention."