Monday, September 04, 2006

Democrats see support for anti-Rumsfeld vote

Democrats see support for anti-Rumsfeld vote
By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A resolution demanding the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after he compared Iraq war critics to Nazi appeasers has strong support among U.S. Senate Democrats, a senior Democrat said on Sunday.

A resolution against Rumsfeld, long a lightning rod for criticism of the Iraq war, would struggle to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and would anyway not be binding on the administration of President George W. Bush.

But Democrats, who have a strong chance to win back control of at least one chamber of Congress in November mid-term elections, will use it to send a message that the administration's policies in Iraq are failing, New York Sen. Charles Schumer said.

"It says that our policies are not going well," Schumer, chairman of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee for the November elections, told Fox News Sunday.

"And the reason is not that we shouldn't fight a strong war on terror, but Rumsfeld's not doing a very good job of it."

Schumer said there was a "a lot of sentiment" among Senate Democrats to push for a resolution, and noted that it was not just Democrats that have called for Rumsfeld to step down -- a Republican candidate for the Senate from New Jersey, Thomas H. Kean Jr., did so on Saturday.

California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer has vowed to offer a resolution calling on Bush to name a new defense secretary, saying she was outraged by Rumsfeld's comments that appeared to compare Iraq war critics to appeasers of Nazi Germany.

A similar resolution against the defense secretary is being considered by House Democrats.

Rumsfeld says his remarks in a speech last week were misrepresented. Bush has rejected previous calls for Rumsfeld to quit.

Another senior Democrat, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, told ABC's "This Week" he would probably support a no-confidence resolution against Rumsfeld.

The administration has begun a new push to bolster sagging public support for the war ahead of the elections, with Bush framing the debate as a choice between staying the course or giving in to terrorists. Republicans argue that Democrats are weak on security issues and would "cut and run" in Iraq.

"I think Secretary Rumsfeld has done an excellent job. He'll be remembered as one of the great secretaries of defense," Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told CBS's "Face the Nation".

McConnell said Democrats wanted to "wave the white flag" on the Iraq war. He said the Republican-run Senate would dwell on national security issues all through September.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said on "Face the Nation" that "of course" Rumsfeld should resign, adding that it was not smart to attack the majority of Americans who thought the war in Iraq was a mistake.

"Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President (Dick) Cheney have gone on television saying people who disagree with the president are essentially like Nazi appeasers. When you start attacking voters out of your frustration, that is not a good thing for winning elections," Dean said