WHITE HOUSE (AP) - President Bush is confirming that Donald Rumsfeld is out as defense secretary. At a White House news conference, Bush also said former CIA Chief Robert Gates is his pick as Rumsfeld's replacement.
Bush says he had what he calls a series of “thoughtful conversations” with Rumsfeld and that both agree the “timing is right” for a change at the Pentagon. The move comes a day after the Democratic gains in the election, in which Rumsfeld was a focus of much of the criticism of the Iraq war.
Bush is praising Rumsfeld's six years there, calling him a “patriot” who served with “honor and distinction.”
Right before election day, Bush said he wanted Rumsfeld to stay for the remainder of his term. Bush says today he told that to reporters because he didn't want to inject a major military decision into the final days of the campaign.
But it's clear Bush was thinking about a change before Americans went to the polls. Bush says he and Gates talked at his Texas ranch on Sunday.
Rumsfeld has been defense secretary since Bush took office. Gates is currently president of Texas A&M University.