GOP Congressman Christopher Shays, a steadfast supporter of President Bush's decision to wage war in Iraq, took a dramatic step Wednesday and called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Shays, who is locked in a bitter battle with antiwar Democrat Diane Farrell, said Rumsfeld and the Defense Department have refused to cooperate with the House subcommittee Shays chairs, which deals with national security, emerging threats, and international relations. "To me, he has crossed the line," Shays told the Associated Press. "I am losing faith in how we are fighting this war."
In a statement, Farrell said her opponent is responding to a new Reuters/Zogby poll that shows him trailing and that he is compensating for a "poor debate performance in which he awkwardly attempted to explain why he hadn't yet called for Rumsfeld to resign." The candidates embarked Wednesday on a series of 11 debates over the next two weeks.
"It's no coincidence he's doing this five weeks before Election Day," said Farrell, who has been calling for Rumsfeld to be removed. A University of Connecticut poll released Tuesday showed Shays with a 4-percentage-point lead over Farrell but with 16 percent of likely voters still undecided.