- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

President Bush yesterday announced the resignation of his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., who had served in the White House’s most demanding staff position for more than five years — the second longest run in presidential history.

Mr. Bush appointed another longtime White House staffer, Joshua B. Bolten, 51, to fill the position. Mr. Bolten is the director of the Office of Management and Budget and a former deputy chief of staff under Mr. Card.

In an early morning televised announcement from the Oval Office, Mr. Bush said Mr. Card had come to him “and raised the possibility of stepping down.”

“He thought it might be time to return to private life,” Mr. Bush said, adding that he decided to accept Mr. Card’s resignation after a weekend stay at Camp David, the presidential retreat, with his longtime aide and confidant.

“I have relied on Andy’s wise counsel, his calm in crisis, his absolute integrity and his tireless commitment to public service,” said Mr. Bush, who is known for prizing loyalty.

“The next three years will demand much of those who serve our country. We have a global war to fight and win.”

Mr. Card, 58, stood stiffly with his hands by his sides as Mr. Bush praised his years of service through the September 11 attacks, two wars and a string of crises and legislative challenges. In brief comments, Mr. Card quoted the Bible, saying the time has come “for a new season.”

Gripping the podium, Mr. Card, his eyes welling, said in his farewell: “You’re a good man, Mr. President, and you do great things.”

“Working in the White House is a tremendous privilege. It’s almost beyond description, the great privilege it is to work at the White House. But it is even a greater honor to serve as the president’s chief of staff, especially to you, Mr. President,” Mr. Card said.

“Mr. President, as a chief of staff, I know I was a staffer, and now I look forward to being your friend.”

Mr. Card’s exit came amid calls from Republicans for a White House shake-up. Many conservatives have been angered by what they see as the “tin ear” of the administration in recent months, pointing to the Supreme Court nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers, quickly derailed by conservatives, and the backing of an Arab company’s bid to operate terminals at six U.S. ports.

Democrats seized on the ports deal as proof that Mr. Bush has gone soft on security. The company dropped its bid because of the opposition.

But a senior White House official said Mr. Card’s resignation — and the president’s decision to accept it — had nothing to do with the Republican clamor for change. Instead, the official said, Mr. Card was simply ready to move on.

Mr. Card held the top White House staff job longer than anyone in 47 years, since Sherman Adams served President Eisenhower.

To the public, Mr. Card may be best-known as the aide who calmly walked into a Florida school room and whispered into Mr. Bush’s ear that America was under attack on September 11. Known as a soft-spoken man who took time to praise even low-level staffers who performed well, Mr. Card brought a common-sense approach to the job, using a complex system to remember even the smallest details.

He also worked longer hours than nearly anyone else at the White House, rising at 4:20 a.m., arriving at his office less than an hour later and often working until 8 or 9 p.m.

Mr. Bolten will take over the job on April 14. Like Mr. Card, he is a longtime adviser, having served as a deputy chief of staff from 2001 to 2003 before becoming budget director.

Mr. Bush said yesterday that Mr. Bolten was “a man with broad experience, having worked on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street and in the White House” and was respected by members of Congress from both parties.

Mr. Bolten, speaking after Mr. Bush, said he looked forward to keeping on track an agenda he called “exciting” and was “deeply honored” to be succeeding Mr. Card

Mr. Bolten, who studied at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Stanford Law School, is well-respected in top political circles in Washington.

The pick shows that Mr. Bush plans to push his agenda through the next three years, even during the 2008 presidential campaign, said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, who has known Mr. Bolten for years.

Known as a square dealer with both the press and members of Congress, Mr. Bolten should be adept at helping the administration get its message out, Mr. Portman said.

“Josh knows not just the ins and outs of government, but in particular he knows the ins and outs of the White House,” Mr. Portman said. “He’ll make some appropriate changes.”

• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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