The Associated Press
updated 9/26/2003 12:56:13 PM ET 2003-09-26T16:56:13

Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean and John Kerry have called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign, citing a “pattern of deception” in his statements on Iraq and a failure to plan for the postwar period.

KERRY, A SENATOR from Massachusetts, first said Thursday that Rumsfeld should step down, saying he proceeded in Iraq “in an arrogant, inappropriate way that has frankly put America at jeopardy.”

Dean, the former governor of Vermont, joined the call Friday and added Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to the list of those who should quit. Dean announced that he was starting a national petition drive on the Internet to demonstrate support for their resignations.

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Dean and Kerry were “playing a game of political copycat. If John Kerry calls for one administration official to resign, Howard Dean has to call for two.”

Dean accused the Bush administration of “a long line of problematic statements” on Iraq, from the president’s disputed State of the Union message about Iraq’s attempts to acquire uranium for a nuclear weapon to claims of ties between Iraq and the al-Qaida terror network.

“This pattern of deception is but one major reason that this administration deserves to be fired by the American people,” said Dean, who also cited the “abject failure” to plan for a postwar Iraq.

“There is no need to wait until the next election to hold the major architects of this disaster responsible for their gross incompetence,” he said. “The time has come for the president to fire them.”

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