White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday he is resigning, continuing a shakeup in President Bush’s administration that has already yielded a new chief of staff and could lead to a change in the Cabinet.
Appearing with Bush on the White House South Lawn just before the president boarded a helicopter at the start a trip to Alabama, McClellan, who has parried especially fiercefully with reporters on Iraq and on intelligence issues, told Bush: “I have given it my all sir and I have given you my all sir, and I will continue to do so as we transition to a new press secretary.”
Bush said McClellan had “a challenging assignment.”
“I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity,” the president said. “It’s going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days.”
Also, in an ongoing shakeup of the president’s staff, longtime confidant and adviser Karl Rove is giving up oversight of policy development to focus more on politics with the approach of the fall midterm elections, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
Just over a year ago, Rove was promoted to deputy chief of staff in charge of most White House policy coordination. That new portfolio came on top of his title as senior adviser and role of chief policy aide to Bush.
But now, the job of deputy chief of staff for policy is being given to Joel Kaplan, now the White House’s deputy budget director, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the president had not yet made the announcement.
The move signals a possibly broad effort to rearrange and reinvigorate Bush’s staff by new chief of staff Joshua Bolten. Bolten moved into his position last week; Kaplan was his No. 2 person at the Office of Management and Budget.
Check out Rightwinged.com for many links and updates on the Snow speculation.
Update I: The Political Pit Bull takes us down McClellan memory lane with a video montage.
Update II: Via Hotline, more speculation on who will replace McClellan:
Rob Nichols, currently the pres. of the Financal Services Forum? Insiders think his appointment is unlikely, although he does know Bolten.
Dan Bartlett It would obviously be a step down, but he is arguably the best on-camera communicator the Bush White House has… and he has a good relationship with most members of the press. He’s also — obviously — very close to Bolten and Bush. He could do it for the rest of the year, groom a deputy in the meantime.
Victoria Clark — She’s close to Bolten, and, importantly, could assert herself as a peer to Rove and Bartlett. Would she take the job if her access to Bush and Bolten were guaranteed? Would the WH worry about her role as Pentagon spokeswoman during the Iraq war? Still, Clarke, asked a few weeks back about whether she’d take the job, replied: “You know, what did Sherman say? If nominated, won’t run; if elected, will not serve. Not happening.”
Dan Senor — very well liked, but some in the president’s circle believe that he enjoyed the spotlight a bit too much when he was Bremer’s press guy. The Bush White House doesn’t reward flash and sizzle, at least when manifested by aides to the president. His recent marriage to NBCer Campbell Brown is considered by some Republicans to be a “deal-breaker.”
Brian Jones — currently the RNC’s comm. dir. Considered one of the best managers in the GOP comm. business. But he’ll likely stay at the RNC. He also lacks on-camera experience.
Ron Bonjean — current comm. dir to Denny Hastert; former comm. chief for Don Evans; has crisis experience, to boot. (He worked for Trent Lott during the relevant period of Mr. Lott’s career.) Smart and talented and well-liked by the press. However, he is also not likely to leave his current job.
My personal preference would be Stephen Hayes, but then that would mean he’d 1) be too tied to the admin and 2) would mean he wouldn’t have as much time to focus on the Iraq/AQ connections.