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President Obama -- criticized in a new book by his former Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- found an unusual source of sympathy on Sunday: John McCain.

The Republican senator from Arizona, who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama, told CNN that Gates should have delayed publication of his new book, perhaps until the end of the U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan.

"If I (had been) giving him advice, I would have waited," McCain said on CNN's State of the Union.

McCain also called Gates "one of the finest public servants that I've known," and he has the right "to voice his views any time he wants to."

In Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War, Gates also criticizes Vice President Biden, former President George W. Bush, and members of Congress, as well as Obama.

"He's obviously very frustrated and felt -- which by the way surprised all of us who know him -- and he's decided to really kind of let loose," McCain told CNN's Candy Crowley.

Gates does praise Obama's decisions in Afghanistan -- including the deployment of more U.S. troops to the conflict -- but questions whether the president truly believed his policy.

The book is due for public release on Tuesday.

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