Bush has sought to boost Republican turnout by defending the Iraq war and accusing Democrats of lacking a plan to win it. Making the war a central theme is a political gamble given deep American unease about it. He has had the sprawling U.S. military community largely behind him in the war.
But several newspapers widely read by U.S. military personnel called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over Iraq, rejecting Bush's stated plan to retain Rumsfeld for the remaining two years of his presidency.
''Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised,'' the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times said in an editorial to be published on Monday.
The newspapers are published by the Military Times Media Group, a subsidiary of Gannett Co. Inc., which also publishes USA Today.
White House spokesman Tony Snow called the editorial ''a shabby piece of work,'' and said Bush's reaction ''was just to shrug it off.''
Snow said the editorial gave a ''false impression'' it was the sentiment of military personnel rather than of editorial writers for the Gannett newspaper chain.