Phoenix U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he had "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.
McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him."
"I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops -- linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.," said McCain, R-Ariz. "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue."
When asked whether Rumsfeld was a liability to the Bush administration, McCain responded: "The president can decide that, not me."
McCain, a decorated Navy veteran and former Vietnam prisoner of war, is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has oversight of military operations and considerable influence over the Pentagon budget.
Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said McCain "has frequently expressed his views regarding troop levels in Iraq, and he is an important member" of the committee.