Bush announces Rumsfeld stepping down as defense secretary; ex-CIA chief Gates tapped for job
Thursday, November 9th 2006, 5:33 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) After years of defending his secretary of defense, President Bush announced Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation within hours of the Democrats' triumph in congressional elections. Bush reached back to his father's administration to tap a former CIA director to run the Pentagon.
The Iraq war was the central issue of Rumsfeld's nearly six-year tenure, and unhappiness with the war was a major element of voter dissatisfaction Tuesday, and the main impetus for his departure. Even some GOP lawmakers became critical of the war's management, and growing numbers of politicians were urging Bush to replace Rumsfeld.
Bush said on Wednesday that Robert Gates, 63, who has served in a variety of national security jobs under six previous presidents, would be nominated to replace Rumsfeld. Gates, currently the president of Texas A&M University, is a Bush family friend and a member of an independent group studying the way ahead in Iraq.
The White House hopes that replacing Rumsfeld with Gates can help refresh U.S. policy on the deeply unpopular war and perhaps establish a stronger rapport with the new Congress. Rumsfeld had a rocky relationship with many lawmakers.
"Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that sometimes it's necessary to have a fresh perspective,'' Bush said in the abrupt announcement during a postelection news conference.