Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sen. Biden says Bush should fire Rumsfeld


Sen. Biden says Bush should fire Rumsfeld

Associated Press Writer

DOVER, Del. (AP) -- President Bush needs to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and level with the American people about the situation in Iraq, said U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, who is testing the political waters for a possible White House run in 2008.

Following up on remarks he made Sunday, Biden said the Bush administration is downplaying expectations in Iraq, and that he wouldn't be surprised if a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops is announced before parliamentary elections scheduled for December.

But the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops would be unwise, given that the biggest problem in Iraq, as he sees it, is "the lack of order."

Biden disputed administration claims that more than 175,000 Iraqis have been trained to take over security duties from U.S. troops.

In reality, only a few thousand Iraqi troops are capable of carrying out security operations on their own, and another 12,000 or so can operate successfully only with the help of U.S. troops, Biden said. He said there is "no possibility" of Iraqis being able to maintain control themselves without at least another year of training.

"Why doesn't the president just tell the truth?" said Biden, adding that Rumsfeld should have been fired a year ago for incompetence - whether it be sending too few U.S. troops or failing to equip them adequately - that approaches "criminal."

"The president's got to get rid of Rumsfeld," he said.

Closer to home, Biden said he is continuing to travel around the country to gauge whether he has enough public support to run for president in 2008.

"There's no campaign yet," said the Delaware Democrat, who has made trips to several "red states," many in the South, won by Republicans in past elections.

Biden said Democrats and Republicans previously have focused campaign strategies on energizing their core voters, which has led to an increasingly polarized electorate. Biden said his challenge is to strike a chord with middle-class voters from both parties who he believes share common hopes and frustrations.

"You're not going to solve Social Security with a 51 percent solution," said Biden, referring to President Bush's share of the popular vote in his re-election last year over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "If you cant unite the states, then you can't govern."

While trying to find common ground among voters, however, Biden doesn't plan to abandon his Democrat pedigree.

"I'm not going to start trimming my sails," said Biden, who believes fundraising will be his biggest obstacle. "I know what I think. I know what I believe. ... If I can't do it on my own terms, ... then I don't want to do it."


On the Net:

Biden Political Site: http://uniteourstates.com