Tue, Oct 03, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Bush disregards aides to stand by Pentagon chief

CIRCLE OF CRITICS Bob Woodward's new book says the defense secretary's opponents went to great lengths to get rid of him, but Bush never relented


US President George W. Bush has full confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even if others dislike the Pentagon chief's "bedside manner," a top White House official said.

Bush counselor Dan Bartlett on Sunday did not directly respond to questions about whether the White House had considered replacements for Rumsfeld, as reported in Bob Woodward's new book on the Bush administration's Iraq war policy.

Bartlett said: "Every Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the president," but that Bush believes Rumsfeld is the right man to run the Pentagon.

"We recognize that he has his critics," he said on ABC's This Week. "We recognize that he's made some very difficult decisions. Some people don't like his bedside manner. But what President Bush looks to in Secretary Rumsfeld is to bring him the type of information he needs to make the right decisions in this war."

Rumsfeld on Sunday said he was not considering resigning and that Bush had called him personally in recent days to express his continued support.

Rumsfeld said he was not surprised by reports in Woodward's book that White House staff had encouraged Bush to fire him after the 2004 election.

In his book State of Denial, Woodward writes that former White House chief of staff Andrew Card twice sought to persuade Bush to fire Rumsfeld, the second time with the support of first lady Laura Bush. Card has rejected any suggestion that he led a campaign to dump Rumsfeld, but said he did discuss Rumsfeld's role in Bush's second term with the president.

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