Bush on Rumsfeld: Because I said so

The president said he's heard "the voices," but that he knows what's best for the United States of America.

Published April 18, 2006 5:35PM (EDT)

George W. Bush was asked today to respond to the charge that he's ignoring retired military commanders who say it's time for a change at the Pentagon. Here's what the president said:

"I say, I listen to all voices, but mine is the final decision. And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

In what may be a bad sign for Scott McClellan, the president was dramatically less definitive when he was asked if some White House staffers might be subject to "involuntary" departures. Bush said that he has given new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten the authority to "design a White House structure so that it will function so that he can do his job," and that he expects Bolten to bring him "different recommendations" as to "who should be here and who should not be here." The president then waved off some unspecified "gossip" about personnel changes before moving quickly to an in-depth answer to an unasked question about gas prices.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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