Bolten Replaces Card as White House Chief of Staff
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris. He's been with the administration from day one, and today President Bush announced the resignation of his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. Next month, Card will be replaced by another familiar face in the White House, Budget Director Joshua Bolten. He was once Card's deputy. The move comes at a critical time for the president. He's been struggling in the polls and facing calls from within his own party for a staff shakeup. We'll discuss the matter with two political observers in a few minutes.
First, we'll have this report from NPR's David Greene, at the White House.
DAVID GREENE reporting:
Many Americans may have no idea what Andy Card looks like. But quietly, behind the scenes, he's been the steady presence at Mr. Bush's side since the president took office. He managed his daily schedule, helped craft policy and may well have been face to face with the president more than any other advisor. The most memorable image of Card dates from September 11, 2001, when he turned to the president in a Florida elementary school and told him a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. The rare times that Card went on the airwaves, his mission was to defend his boss in tough times.
In January of 2003, Card told NPR that the president was ready to go to war in Iraq with or without support from the United Nations and other allies.
Mr. ANDREW CARD (White House Chief of Staff): The members of the United Nations didn't take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The president took that oath. And he happens to believe that our interests will complement the interests of a lot of other countries, and that they will choose to be with us.
GREENE: This morning, White House aides hastily called reporters into the Oval Office. Mr. Bush walked in with Card and announced that he had accepted the resignation of his Chief of Staff.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Andy Card has served me and our country in historic times, on a terrible day when America was attacked, during economic recession and recovery, through storms of unprecedented destructive power, in peace and in war.
GREENE: Mr. Bush was standing at a lectern aides had put up in front of his Oval Office desk. On one side stood Bolten, a former Card deputy who is now Director of Management and Budget. Card stood to the other side, looking a bit tired, as he often does. It's no wonder. After more than five years in a backbreaking job, he's one of the longest-serving White House Chiefs of Staff in history.
President BUSH: On most days, Andy is the first one to arrive in the West Wing and among the last to leave. And during those long days over many years I've come to know Andy as more than my Chief of Staff. He is leaving the White House, but he'll always be my friend.
GREENE: Bolten came to the lectern next and thanked Card for agreeing to stick around for a few weeks to help break him in. Card then came to speak. There has long been talk that he may return to his native Massachusetts to run for governor, and today's move refueled that speculation. But Card said nothing of his plans and used his time at the microphone to praise the president as a leader and a man.
Mr. CARD: And you're a good man, Mr. President, and you do great things. I'm grateful for the friendship that you've shown me. I'm grateful for the love that Laura has shared with Kathy and with me. I'm grateful for the White House staff that has served you so well and helped me do a better job. But it is a different season, and Josh Bolten is the right person for that season.
GREENE: But the issue of Bolten's fitness is sure to be at the forefront of Washington chatter for days to come. The last year has been tumultuous politically for Mr. Bush, and his approval ratings have dipped well down into the 30s in many polls. Some Republican allies have been calling for a major shakeup in the White House, and elevating Bolten to Chief of Staff won't satisfy all of them.
Shortly after his announcement, Mr. Bush held a Cabinet meeting, then came outside in the Rose Garden to address reporters again. He bid farewell to Card and to his outgoing Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, but the question on the minds of reporters was obvious.
President BUSH: I'm proud to work side by side with him, and I'm proud to call him friend. Thank you all very much.
Unidentified Reporter: Mr. President, will you make more staff changes?
GREENE: The president left the gathering leaving that question unanswered.
David Greene, NPR News, the White House.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.