Rummy exit rumored; Lieberman eyed for job
BY THOMAS M. DEFRANK and KENNETH R. BAZINET
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - White House officials are telling
associates they expect Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld to quit early next year, once a new
government is formed in Iraq, sources said yesterday.
Rumsfeld's deputy, Gordon England, is the inside
contender to replace him, but there's also speculation
that Sen. Joe Lieberman - a Democrat who ran against
Bush-Cheney in the 2000 election - might become top
guy at the Pentagon.
That's not as farfetched as it might first appear.
The Daily News has learned that the White House
considered Lieberman for the UN ambassador's job last
year before giving the post to John Bolton, a Bush
"He thought about it for a week or so and finally said
no," the adviser recalled.
A source close to the White House said Rumsfeld wanted
out a year ago, after Bush's reelection, but neither
he nor President Bush wanted his departure to appear
to have been forced.
"They didn't want to give the critics the satisfaction
that their piling on was what got rid of him," a Bush
Bush has told friends that Rumsfeld is a political
liability, but the President has a history of sticking
with his personnel baggage until an opportune moment.
"Only Rumsfeld will make Rumsfeld leave," a White
House source said.
Rumors that Lieberman could replace Rumsfeld started
flying early this week, and Bush and Vice President
Cheney fanned the flames by quoting the former
Democratic veep candidate's pro-war statements.
The mention of Lieberman's name prompted some
Democrats to whisper that he is lobbying for the job.
"Lieberman seems to be coordinating his statements on
the war with the White House," a Senate Democratic
The source pointed to a news conference this week
where Lieberman urged his party not to undermine Bush.
The timing of Lieberman's pitch, also this week, to
form a bipartisan "war cabinet" to aid Bush was cited
But Lieberman and Team Bush dismissed the rumors.
"The U.S. Senate is where Sen. Lieberman wants to be,
which is why he is actively campaigning for reelection
to his fourth term," the senator's spokeswoman, Casey
Originally published on December 8, 2005