The Senate GOP leadership responded to criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by hailing him as a “strong, smart and experienced.” Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (Ky.) Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.), Conference Vice Chairman Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R.-Tex.), Policy Committee Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Elizabeth Dole (R.-N.Y.) jointly signed a statement in Rumsfeld’s defense.
In the days after Rumsfeld’s December 8 comments about armored vehicles–comments that were grossly misreported as noted by Allan Ryskind in last week’s cover story–Republicans Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Trent Lott (Miss.) had suggested it was time for Rumsfeld to go. McCain and Hagel are angling for attention in anticipation of 2008 presidential bids.