- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

President Bush continued his midterm staff shuffle yesterday by accepting the resignation of his administration’s public face, Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and turning some of adviser Karl Rove’s duties over to a new deputy chief of staff.

Mr. Rove will now focus on “larger strategic issues,” the White House said, and give up the policy portfolio he gained just 14 months ago. He will turn the policy duties over to Joel D. Kaplan, who will join Mr. Rove and Joe Hagin as deputy chiefs of staff.

In one week the famously stable Bush White House gained a new chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten; a new deputy chief of staff; and, pending Senate confirmation, a new budget director and U.S. trade representative; and the administration lost its press secretary. But calling it a shakeup might be too much — all of the slots that have been filled were with people already in the administration, and White House officials said Mr. Rove remains as important as ever.

Mr. McClellan made his announcement personally, telling Mr. Bush in front of TV cameras yesterday he has “given it my all, sir, and I’ve given you my all.”

“He’s made the decision and I accept it,” the president said.

The White House already has begun talking with potential replacements for the job. Among the names being mentioned are Mr. McClellan’s former deputy, Trent Duffy; Fox News Radio host Tony Snow, a longtime friend of Mr. Bolten and a White House speechwriter under the first President Bush; former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke; and Dan Senor, a former coalition spokesman after the invasion of Iraq who is now married to Campbell Brown, a former White House correspondent for NBC News.

Mr. McClellan said he began to think about leaving when former Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. announced his departure three weeks ago.

“I’ve been at this for a long time,” said Mr. McClellan, who took over in July 2003. “I didn’t need much encouragement to make this decision.”

As for Mr. Rove’s new duties, Mr. McClellan said that was Mr. Bolten’s decision.

“This is born out of a new chief of staff coming on board and wanting to structure the office the way that he feels will suit him the best,” he said.

Democrats said the changes don’t go far enough, particularly for Mr. Rove.

“A demotion is not enough,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said. “From the collapse of the president’s scheme to privatize Social Security to Rove’s involvement in the outing of a covert CIA agent’s identity while he still holds a security clearance, the president has abundant reason to fire Karl Rove.”

Mr. McClellan’s announcement was a surprise to reporters who had gathered to watch Mr. Bush depart on his helicopter for a flight to Andrews Air Force Base.

The first indication of an announcement came when the White House press staff placed a mat on the ground in front of the television cameras, which signaled that Mr. Bush would make unscheduled remarks. The president and Mr. McClellan then walked out of the Oval Office together and went to the cameras, where Mr. McClellan announced his departure.

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