President Bush has ousted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one day after the president's Republican Party suffered a significant defeat in congressional elections that pollsters said was caused largely by public dissatisfaction over the conduct of the war in Iraq.
President Bush confirmed the embattled defense secretary's departure during a news conference.
"Now after a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon," he said.
President Bush said Secretary Rumsfeld was a "superb leader" during a time of enormous change. He also called Rumsfeld's departure part of the normal workings of a democracy, and warned U.S. adversaries not to misinterpret it as weakness.
The president also announced that he will nominate former CIA Director Robert Gates to replace Rumsfeld. Gates will have to be confirmed by the new Senate, which may be controlled by the Democratic Party.
Many Democrats and some Republicans had called for Secretary Rumsfeld's departure. They blame him for poor planning that they say resulted in the ongoing violence in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld was one of the longest-serving defense secretaries in U.S. history.