Video: New calls for Rumsfeld to resign

updated 11/4/2006 8:46:58 PM ET 2006-11-05T01:46:58

The White House defended President Bush’s Iraq policy Saturday against an editorial that said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “must go” and comments by conservatives criticizing the handling of the war.

The criticism comes in the crucial days before Tuesday’s election in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress as the unpopular war weighs on Republicans.

Vanity Fair magazine reported Friday that Richard Perle and other conservatives who pushed for the invasion of Iraq now say they would not have supported a war if they knew how poorly the Bush administration would handle it.

“If the quotes are accurate, that means that they are at war with the advice that they gave some time ago,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said while traveling with Bush to Texas from Colorado.

War supporter has no ‘remorse’
David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter who was also quoted in Vanity Fair, criticized the magazine for calling him and others “remorseful” former supporters in a press release about the article.

“Obviously I wish the war had gone better. It’s true I fear that there is a real danger that the U.S. will lose in Iraq. And yes I do blame a lot that has gone wrong on failures of U.S. policy,” Frum said in a statement.

But he said he had made the same points many times since 2004. “Nothing exclusive there, nothing shocking, and believe me, nothing remorseful.”

Bush, who is on a 10-state campaign sweep for Republicans in the last stretch before the congressional elections, says the Iraq war was the right action taken to remove Saddam Hussein from power and that U.S. forces must stay until Iraqis can take care of security. He says Democrats only have criticism but no plan for Iraq.

Bush has also consistently defended Rumsfeld against calls for the defense secretary to resign.

An editorial to run Monday in several publications that cover the military said Rumsfeld “must go.” It is expected to be published in the Army Times, the Navy Times, the Marine Corps Times and the Air Force Times, newspapers published by a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc. which also publishes USA Today.

‘Lost credibility’
“Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large,” the editorial said. “His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.”

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Snow called the editorial “a shabby piece of work.”

Inside the Bush White HouseHe said it gave a “false impression” it was the sentiment of military personnel rather than of editorial writers for the Gannett newspaper chain.

Democrats, who say a new direction is needed for Iraq, seized on the editorial.

“America’s troops have done their part. President Bush and congressional Republicans have not done theirs,” Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. “Where they have failed, Democrats will force the White House to change course from chaos and get on the path to victory.”

Bush had been told of the editorial, Snow said. “His reaction was just to shrug it off. He understands what editorial writers sometimes do, and in this case they’re grandstanding.” 

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