Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has all but accused Kevin Rudd of sabotaging the 2010 election, saying that Labor had been in a ''winning'' position before the damaging leaks during the campaign.
"It required some stoicism," she said.
In a press conference this morning in Adelaide, she said that party polling had put Labor in a ''winning'' lead, which it lost thanks to leaks in the later part of the campaign.
In her reply to Mr Rudd's resignation from the foreign ministry last night, Ms Gillard confirmed that she will call a ballot for the Labor leadership at 10am (12 noon, NZ time) on Monday.
She said that she expected to win but in the event she did not, pledged to go to the backbench and renounce any further claims on the leadership.
She called on Mr Rudd – whom she expects to also nominate on Monday – to make the same promise.
Earlier this morning, Rudd told reporters in Washington that he was set to contest the Labor leadership.
''I do not believe that Prime Minister Gillard can lead the Australian Labor Party to success at the next election,'' he said
Ms Gillard returned Mr Rudd's earlier fire saying that she believed that she could defeat Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and that governments should be measured by their achievements, not opinion polls.
This morning, Ms Gillard talked frankly about her time in government and her time as deputy prime minister under Mr Rudd.
She said that Mr Rudd had had "very chaotic" work patterns and that government required different skills than election campaigning, including consultation.
"Kevin Rudd struggled to do that," she said.
Ms Gillard said she had not "canvassed every detail" about the June 2010 leadership change before out of respect for her predecessor.
But she acknowledged that her government had not had a totally smooth ride.
''No government is perfect and I have made mistakes over the past 18 months,'' she said.
Ms Gillard conceded that she could have paid more attention to media appearances, despite criticising Mr Rudd for being too focused on the news cycle and picture opportunities.
In announcing the ballot, Ms Gillard said that for "far too long we have seen squabbling" within the Labor Party and that in recent days it had become too distracting for the work of government.
She said that under her leadership, the government had secured an "historic health agreement" and introduced a private health insurance rebate.
She said that her leadership had also seen the structural seperation of Telsta - something vital to the national broadband network.
Ms Gillard also said that she had been focused on changes to education and rolling out the reforms that she had designed as well as being focused on the economy, including a return to surplus.
The Prime Minister said that there was more work for her government to do, mentioning the skills reform package that she is taking to COAG in April this year and social changes.
"We've got more to do to make sure that Australians who live a life of disability . . . get a fair go and a fair chance," she said.
"I believe that I can lead Labor to that victory," she said, provided that the party unites.
"Government is about more than electioneering. Government is about having the courage to get the big reforms done.''
Ms Gillard finished her prepared statement with fighting words, saying that she believed she could "always keep going" no matter "how adverse the circumstances".
The Prime Minister said that it was very important that the leadership ballot on Monday "ends this once and for all".
Ms Gillard - also in agreement with Mr Rudd's comments yesterday - said that she did not believe the federal leadership uncertainty was fair on Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who was fighting to retain government for Labor.
The Prime Minister hit back at claims that a third candidate may be in the works for Monday. "No, no one has suggested that to me."
Ms Gillard said that she was "under no illusions" about the political difficulties faced by the government by way of poor opinion polls.
But she said this was due to the reforms her government had undertaken, such as carbon pricing.
"Has it cost us? Yes it has", before adding that it was worth it.
The Prime Minister also hit out at accusations from Mr Rudd about "faceless men" within the party.
"I think this chatter about faceless men in profoundly insulting to my Labor colleuages," she said.
Ms Gillard concluded by saying that she had never made a comment that was disloyal to Mr Rudd when he was prime minister.
She said journalists could use any comments made off the record to prove her wrong.
Ms Gillard said that did "everything" that she could do as deputy prime minister to try and get the Rudd government functional.
But she said that it became "manifest" to her that continuing with Mr Rudd as prime minister was not going to work.
The Prime Minister was also involved in an aggressive exchange with The Australian newspaper's South Australian bureau chief Michael Owen.
Mr Owen irked Ms Gillard with a persistent line of questioning on her rise to prime minister 18 months ago, insisting that Ms Gillard was setting herself up for the leadership towards the end of Mr Rudd's prime ministership. ''So you just fell into the leadership?'' he said, in one of a string of comments.
Ms Gillard responded with ''I'm not listening to this rudeness'' and then told the reporter that she would give his colleague the opportunity to ask a question as Mr Owen would not let her answer.
Mr Rudd, who will give a fuller statement on his return to Australia, said he was encouraged by support from colleagues overnight but "shocked" by personal attacks against him since he resigned.
''I would urge my own supporters in Australia, not to retalitate,'' he said.
He added that Mr Abbott was the ''national master'' of this type of politics.
He has called on Australians to cultivate a new culture of unity in response.
''In Australia today, people are stick and tired of the politics of division,'' Mr Rudd said.
Mr Rudd said that politics in Australia was not about personality, but about trust and vision.
''We have done some formidable things,'' he said, citing new investment in hospitals, education and the NBN, as well as dealing with challenges of climate change and the indigenous apology.
Mr Rudd said that a key future challenge was the restoration of business confidence.
''That is critical'', he said, adding that small business needed to be encouraged to invest in their future.
He added that the second big challenge was manufacturing.
''I do not share the view that manufacturing is somehow old-fashioned,'' he said and he slammed the Gillard government's decision to axe the Green Car Fund.
The third big area of policy, Mr Rudd continued, was health reform, saying the government has ''squibbed'' some of the big decisions when it came to health.
He also said he wanted to tackle further reform of the education system, saying he wanted to have an emphasis on Asian languages.
Also on the list was reform of the Labor Party itself, Mr Rudd said, so that it was not governed by ''faceless men''.
This is the second press conference that Mr Rudd has held in under 24 hours. He said that he wanted to call this second meeting, as he will soon be on a plane travelling back to Australia and out of contact.
He ended the press conference with his classic line - ''I've got to zip''.
He then sent an upbeat tweet before flying back to Australia: ''Heading home to Brissie. Not exactly the visit I had planned to Washington! A big thank you for all the support. KRudd.''
This morning before Mr Rudd's second US press conference, Regions Minister and former Labor leader Simon Crean challenged Mr Rudd's claim about ''faceless men''.
''He called me a faceless man . . . and I must say, I might be called lots of things but I am not faceless. I've always been prepared to call it as it is,'' he told radio 3AW.
''We have to play as a team. No individual is better than the team. We can't have a collection of prima donnas.''
Mr Crean also congratulated Mr Rudd on making the ''right call'' to resign, but said he should have done it differently.
He also predicted that Mr Rudd would be beaten in a leadership ballot, but the former foreign minister would not resign from parliament.
Earlier Mr Rudd's strong supporter, Labor Senator Doug Cameron, called on Julia Gillard to delay the Labor leadership ballot until next Friday, as the Prime Minister prepares to announce a vote for Monday morning.
Last night, Senator Cameron said that a ''rush to a ballot'' on Monday would not be a ''fair go'' for Mr Rudd.
''I think that would be a travesty of democracy within the Labor party,'' Senator Cameron told the ABC's Lateline.
Senator Cameron - of the Labor left faction - said that Mr Rudd needed time to return from overseas and campaign. Today, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mr Rudd is short of a majority with between 30 and 39 votes - depending on the views of the Gillard or Rudd camps. He would need 52 votes to take the leadership.
Treasurer Wayne Swan this morning announced that he has cancelled his trip to the G20 Finance Minister's meeting in Mexico this weekend in anticipation of a Monday vote on the Labor leadership.
Finance deputy Mike Callaghan will represent Mr Swan.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told ABC radio that we was not interested in forming a minority government if the independent MPs removed their support for the ALP government and called a vote of no confidence.
He's said he preferred not to become prime minister as a result of backroom deals and if the Governor-General asks him to form government he'd immediately call an election.
''We need a real change and the only way we can get real change is with a real election,'' Mr Abbott said.
The prospect of the independent MPs withdrawing support for the government was strengthened when independent MP Tony Windsor hinted this morning that it is unlikely he would back a Rudd prime ministership mid-term.
He told the ABC that he was ''more than happy to talk to anybody'' in the event that there was a leadership change.
But he added it would be ''difficult'' to come to ''another arrangement'' in the middle of a parliament.
Mr Windsor said that he thought he had a much chance of becoming Prime Minister as Kevin Rudd did. ''I don't think there will be a new leader,'' he said.
Mr Rudd was due to give a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The organisation's website site now carries a picture of a serious looking Mr Rudd and an apology.
Australia's Ambassador to the US and former Labor leader, Kim Beazley has visited Mr Rudd at his hotel. Mr Beazley brushed off questions about Mr Rudd, noting that the leadership battle will be decided by people "well and truly above my pay grade".
This morning Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said a leadership ballot was inevitable.
''We have to put this issue to bed,'' she told the ABC. ''We have got to be mature.''
Ms Roxon noted that Mr Rudd had led the ALP to victory in 2007 and had achieved ''some amazing things.''
But she added that he was very difficult to work with as prime minister.
''That decision [to dump him] was made for very strongly held reasons that I think are still true now.''
Other senior ministers have come out to criticise Mr Rudd since he resigned.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy called Mr Rudd’s destabilising behaviour behind-the-scenes a ''disgrace'' early this morning on Channel 9.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson – who will act as Foreign Minister – said that Mr Rudd’s statement that he would not attack a sitting prime minister was hypocritical.
''I think Kevin should look in his own backyard''.
Last night, Environment Minister Tony Burke added that he was glad the leadership issue was being resolved.
''The fact that Kevin's been openly campaigning for the leadership has been the worst kept secret in Canberra,'' he told 7.30.
But Labor backbencher Janelle Saffin said the spate of senior Gillard ministers ''entering the fray and criticising Mr Rudd was ''unseemly''.
Ms Saffin also told ABC radio this morning that that people in her northern NSW electorate wanted to see Mr Rudd return as prime minister. She said Australians had elected him in 2007 and saw his dumping as ''wrong'' and Labor had been ''paying the price ever since''.