BREAKING NEWS: Rumsfeld Resigning

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld prepares to receive Mexican Navy Secretary Admiral Marco Antonio Peyrot, not shown, during an honor cordon at the Pentagon on Oct. 30. President George W. Bush confirmed that Rumsfeld is stepping down during a press co The Associated Press

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld prepares to receive Mexican Navy Secretary Admiral Marco Antonio Peyrot, not shown, during an honor cordon at the Pentagon on Oct. 30. President George W. Bush confirmed that Rumsfeld is stepping down during a press co The Associated Press

By Staff and Wire Reports

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, resigned after six stormy years at the Pentagon.

“Donald Rumsfeld and I agree that timing is right for new leadership in the Pentagon,” said President George W. Bush during his press conference Wednesday.

The development occurred one day after midterm elections that cost Republicans control of the House, and possibly the Senate, as well. Surveys of voters at polling places said opposition to the war was a significant contributor to the Democratic victory.

Last week, as he campaigned to save the Republican majority, Bush declared that Rumsfeld would remain at the Pentagon through the end of his term.

Rumsfeld, 74, was in his second tour of duty as defense chief. He first held the job a generation ago, when he was appointed by President Ford.

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    Bush said Rumsfeld was a patriot and a “superb leader at the time of change,” but added that he and Rumsfeld both saw “a need for a new face.” He named Bob Gates, former head of the CIA, as the replacement for Rumsfeld.

    “Bob Gates will bring a fresh perspective and great managerial experience,” Bush said.

    Gates is the president of Texas A&M; University and a close friend of the Bush family. He served as CIA director for Bush’s father from 1991 until 1993.

    Gates first joined the CIA in 1966 and served in the intelligence community for more than a quarter century, under six presidents.

    His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

    Whatever confidence Bush retained in Rumsfeld, the Cabinet officer’s support in Congress had eroded significantly. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House speaker-in-waiting, said at her first post-election news conference that Bush should replace the top civilian leadership at the Pentagon.

    And Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who had intervened in the past to shore up Rumsfeld, issued a statement saying, “Washington must now work together in a bipartisan way – Republicans and Democrats – to outline the path to success in Iraq.”

    When asked if Rumsfeld’s departure signals a new direction for U.S. strategy in Iraq, Bush responded that the troops will remain there until Iraqis establish a strong, self-reliant government that can defend itself.

    Se Young Lee of The Daily Illini contributed to this report.