Bush takes rap for vote defeat

The Democratic party was celebrating after winning enough extra seats in the House of Representatives to gain control of the house for the first time in 12 years.

The race for the Senate remained neck and neck with one seat, Virginia, still being counted.

As the results came in President Bush conceded that the war in Iraq had been a factor in the Republicans’ defeat.

“I know there’s a lot of speculation on what the election means for the battle we’re waging in Iraq,” Mr Bush said at a White House news conference, as his Republican party digested its defeat by Democrats.

“I recognise that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made there,” he said.

As his announcement that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had resigned sent shockwaves through Washington, President Bush made clear that another linchpin of his administration, Vice President Dick Cheney, would stay on until the end of his term in January 2009.

“I’m obviously disappointed with the outcome of the election,” Mr Bush told reporters at a White House news conference.

“As the head of the Republican Party, I share a large part of the responsibility,” he said.

“You look at it race by race, it was close. The cumulative effect, however, was not too close. It was a thumping.”

“I told my party’s leaders that it is now our duty to put elections behind us and work together with the Democrats and independents on the great issues facing this country.”

Mr Bush said he would spend a lot of time meeting with Democratic leaders in the new Congress, including with the likely new speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

“She’s coming to the Oval Office later this week. I’m going to sit down and talk with her.”

“I believe on a lot of issues we can find common ground. There’s a significant difference between common ground and abandon principles.

“She’s not going to abandon her principles and I’m not going to abandon mine. I do believe we have common ground to move forward on,” he said.

Results so far

Following are partial results of the Senate and House of Representatives elections, based on official results and US media reports.

House of Representatives
Democrats: 228 (+25)
Republicans: 195 (-37)
To be decided: 12

Senate
Democrats: 48 (+4)
Independent (pro-Dem): 2 (+1)
Republican: 49 (-6)
To be decided: 1