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The Day After: Rumsfeld Is Out

The announcement that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will step down from his post is the first of several likely changes in Republican ranks following the party's sound defeat at the ballot box yesterday.

Rumsfeld had grown into a lightning rod over the past two years as symbolic of the Bush Administration's alleged unwilligness to change direction in Iraq. Democrats across the country had called on Rumsfeld to resign during the 2006 campaign and had already begun to lay plans to hold hearings seeking answers on Iraq policy.

At a press conference today, Bush praised Rumsfeld as a "superb leader during a time of change" who recognized the "value of bringing in a fresh perspective at this critical time of the war." Bush admitted that many voters have expressed their displeasure with the direction of the war but added quickly:"We cannot accept defeat."

He admitted he was "disappointed with the outcome of the election," and added: "As head of the Republican party I share a large part of the responsibility."

Rumsfeld's departure comes less than 24 hours after Democrats retook control of the House. The party appears to also be on the verge of gaining a Senate majority -- assuming former Navy Secretray Jim Webb (D) maintains his lead over Sen. George Allen (R) in Virginia. The Associated Press' decision earlier today to call the Montana Senate race in favor of state Sen. Jon Tester (D) brings to five the number of Democratic pickups.

It also appears likely that there will be some considerable shakeup among House Republican leader. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has made no announcement about his future but many GOPers are skeptical that he will remain the Republican leader in the House. A number of other ambitious Republicans -- including Reps. John Shadegg(Ariz.), Mike Pence (Ind.) and even Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) -- are expected to mull leadership races.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 8, 2006; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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