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Home > News > PTI > Report

Decision to replace Rumsfeld taken before polls: Bush

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | November 09, 2006 10:17 IST

United States President George W Bush has said that the Democrats' victory in the US polls has nothing to do Defence Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld's resignation and that the decision to appoint former Central Intelligence Agency director Robert Gates was taken earlier.

"There were different factors that determined the outcome of different races, but no question, Iraq was on people's minds. I am making a change at the secretary of defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something I think most Americans wants, which is a victory," Bush said.

Conceding that Iraq was not working 'well enough' and 'fast enough,' Bush said Rumsfeld would have left the Pentagon after the Congressional elections and at a meeting on Wednesday with the latter he decided to accept the resignation.

Bush told reporters that he had not fully consulted with Gates on his new assignment in time to make any earlier announcement.

"I have been talking with Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective. He likes to call it 'fresh eyes.' He, himself, understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough," Bush said.

Bush said he and Rumsfeld were constantly assessing whether they had the right people in the right place with the right strategy.

"And so he and I both agreed in our meeting on Wednesday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation. And so, the decision was made -- actually, I thought we were going to do fine on Wednesday. Shows what I know. But I thought we were going to be fine in the election," Bush said, adding: "Win or lose, Gates was going to become the nominee."

Bush also said it was not proper to inject politics into major decisions, which is why he did not rush into making the Rumsfeld announcement in the final days of the campaign trail.

"I made that decision because I think it sends a bad signal to our troops if they think the commander-in-chief is constantly adjusting tactics and decisions based upon politics. And I think it is important in a time of war that, to the extent possible, we leave politics out of the major decisions being made," he said.

Bush stressed that there was no going to be let up in his priorities such as the war on terror but acknowledged that the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill meant that he would have to 'work' with the Democrats.

To this effect, Bush announced that the first of the meetings with the Democratic leaderships will start this week itself and expressed confidence that he will be able to get business done.

"There is a shift in the Congress. And therefore, in order to get legislation passed, we have got to work with the Democrats. They are the ones who control the committees.

They are the ones who will decide, you know, how the bills flow. And so you will see a lot of meetings with Democrats and a lot of discussion with Democrats," Bush said.

"We just need a different approach to make sure we succeed... you can find common ground there. See, if the goal is success, then we can work together. If the goal is get out now regardless, then that is going to be hard to work together.

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