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“I’m not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld,” Mr. Lott, a Mississippi Republican, told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning. “I don’t think he listens enough to his uniformed officers.”

Mr. Rumsfeld has been criticized since a soldier asked him last week why the combat vehicles used in the war in Iraq don’t have the proper armor. Both Mr. Rumsfeld and President Bush have said more vehicle armor will be shipped to Iraq.

Mr. Lott said the United States needs a plan to leave Iraq once elections are over at the end of January and doesn’t think Mr. Rumsfeld is necessarily the person to carry out that plan, reporter Melissa Scallan wrote.

“I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so,” Mr. Lott said. “I’m not calling for his resignation, but I think we do need a change at some point.”

Ad lingers

The campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry’s failed presidential bid says she regrets underestimating the impact of an ad that questioned the Democrat’s Vietnam War record.

Mary Beth Cahill, who spoke at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government with Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager, said the Kerry campaign initially thought there would be “no reach” to the ad from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Instead, the ad, which initially aired in just three states, became a central issue of the campaign, eventually forcing the senator from Massachusetts to personally deny the group’s charges that he did not deserve his combat medals.

“This is the best $40,000 investment made by any political group, but it was only because of the news coverage that it got where it did,” she said.

“In hindsight, maybe we should have put Senator Kerry out earlier; perhaps we could have cut it off earlier.”

Mr. Mehlman said that it was natural that the ad had the reach and impact it did, because Mr. Kerry made his Vietnam record a central part of his campaign.

“Because Senator Kerry was so focused on that part of his biography, it came out as an issue,” he said.

Rick Reed, a partner with the media firm that produced the ads, issued a statement yesterday scoffing at Miss Cahill’s remarks.

“The idea that Kerry’s people miscalculated the impact of the ads is absurd,” Mr. Reed said. “The Kerry campaign put all its effort into trying to discredit the ads, which didn’t work. Now the spin is that they didn’t know the impact of these ads. Grade-school kids knew the ads were hurting Kerry, so obviously Kerry’s campaign knew.”

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