In final debate, McCaskill calls for Rumsfeld to be fired
Kansas City, MO – (audio from Frank Morris)
In the final debate against Republican Sen. Jim Talent, Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill on Wednesday called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be fired because of his handling of the war in Iraq.
McCaskill, Missouri's state Auditor, claimed Rumsfeld had failed to give a single shred of correct advice about the war in Iraq, saying: "He should definitely be fired."
She rattled off a list of what she considers poor advice from Rumsfeld that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; that sectarian conflict would not bog down the U.S. military; that there would be no U.S. occupation in Iraq.
While defending President Bush's war policies, Talent declined to say whether Bush should retain or remove Rumsfeld. "I don't normally tell presidents who they ought to have or not have in the national chain of command," he said.
The war in Iraq has been one of the most consistent themes through five Missouri Senate debates and has provided one of the sharpest contrasts between the candidates in advance of the Nov. 7 election.
McCaskill has characterized Talent as an unquestioning supporter of what she describes as Bush's failed foreign policies, and has said she would ask tougher questions if elected. Talent has suggested that McCaskill's call for a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq in two years could doom the country to chaos and make it a stronghold for terrorists.
The candidates also were asked what pieces of legislation they would like to see passed in the first 100 days of Congress, should their party win control in this year's elections.
McCaskill said she wanted the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations passed, an increase in the minimum wage and an amendment to the Medicare prescription drug law to allow negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices.
Talent defended the existing Medicare prescription drug law as a good deal for seniors, and said he would like to see passed his own measure permitting small businesses to pool together in buying health insurance for their employees.