It seems that leaders and candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties have found something to agree on: Rummy must go.
Democrats and at least some Republicans appear to agree on one thing as the election approaches: Attacking Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is a way to lift them to victory.
For Democrats, the calculation is clear. They have begun a concerted effort, including pressing for a no-confidence vote on Mr. Rumsfeld in Congress this week, to portray him as the embodiment of what has gone wrong in Iraq.
For a small but growing number of Republicans, attacking Mr. Rumsfeld is a way to criticize how the war has been conducted without turning against the war itself.
“If I had my way, he wouldn’t be secretary of defense now,” Mike McGavick, the Republican challenger to Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, said in an interview Tuesday. “I would have accepted his resignation after Abu Ghraib. I have lost confidence in him.”
Republican consultant Rich Galen, who was a civilian employee for the Defense Department in Iraq, said: “It’s really a free shot for Republicans. You can be in favor of what we are trying to accomplish in Iraq and not be in favor of Rumsfeld.”
Democratic strategists said the party had long planned to use Mr. Rumsfeld in the campaign as a symbol of a war gone wrong, including incorporating him into advertising and having candidates call on him to resign. But they said the effort gathered force last week after he gave a speech in which he appeared to compare Iraq war critics to appeasers of Nazism before World War II.
“It’s a great issue,” said Howard Wolfson, a Democratic consultant who is advising Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as Democrats in two upstate New York districts whose advertisements have included challenges to the war in Iraq. “It forces the stay-the-course Republicans to chose between the president and their districts.”
Representative Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat who is leading his party’s effort to regain a House majority, said, “We are going to go after Rumsfeld.”