- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2002

Mary Matalin, a top assistant to both Republican President Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney, announced yesterday she will resign at year's end to spend more time with her family.

Mrs. Matalin, wife of Democratic strategist James Carville, said she initially planned to work for the White House for only one year, not two.

"I was shooting for a year and as we were coming down the pike, 9/11 happened," she said. "Since then I was just trouble shooting and project working and we went to the Mideast it was like one thing after another.

"Then, once we got close to the mid-terms, I did a lot of fund raising and campaign events," she added. "So it's not like I suddenly made up my mind to leave. I just extended by a year my original intention."

Mrs. Matalin was uniquely positioned with a foot in each camp of the president and vice president. She was the first White House official to hold the dual titles of both assistant to the president and counselor to the vice president.

"Those two offices had to be better integrated than they had been in the past," she explained.

The two-tiered job will cease to exist when Mrs. Matalin leaves in two weeks. But many of her duties will be picked up by Catherine J. Martin, whom the White House named as assistant to the vice president for public affairs.

"Mary is just the best," Mr. Cheney said in a statement issued last night. "The entire Cheney family is in awe of the superb job she has done and grateful we'll be able to call on her many talents in the future."

Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, agreed.

"She will be missed professionally and personally by all who have had the pleasure to work with her," he said. "We will count on drawing upon her guidance and good humor when she is in the private sector"

Mrs. Matalin said she will continue to provide informal, unpaid consulting to the president and vice president in much the same way as former White House Counselor Karen Hughes. Both women expect to be active in the president's re-election campaign.

Although Mrs. Matalin eventually expects to return to the private sector, she said she is looking forward to spending more time with her daughters, Matty, 7, and Emma, 4, as well as her husband.

"He's been a trooper and he puts up with the calls at home on weekends," she said. "He's a good man."

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