Rove, McClellan Signal Latest White House Changes

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove gave up some of his responsibilities and White House press secretary Scott McClellan announced his resignation Wednesday, continuing a shake-up in President Bush's administration that has already yielded a new chief of staff.

Rove is giving up oversight of policy development to focus more on politics with the approach of the fall midterm elections.

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, the deputy budget director.

The move signals a 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.

"Joel Kaplan is a man of great talent, intellect and experience who possesses a deep knowledge of policy and budget processes," Bush said in a written statement.

At least for the time being, the promotion of Kaplan would leave Bush with three deputy chiefs of staff: Rove, Kaplan and Joe Hagin, who oversees administrative matters, intelligence and other national security issues.

Appearing with Bush on the South Lawn, McClellan, who has parried especially fiercely 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."

McClellan is expected to remain in his job until a successor is named. Among those under consideration are Tony Snow, a former 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, according to Republican officials.

McClellan was named press secretary in June 2003, not long after the United States invaded Iraq and had first been a deputy to Ari Fleischer in the job — a White House position with daily public visibility rivaling virtually everyone there except the president.

After the announcement, Bush and McClellan walked across the lawn together and boarded Marine One, but a problem with the helicopter's radio kept it grounded. The president and his staff were forced to take a motorcade to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., where Bush boarded Air Force One for a flight to Alabama. McClellan and Rove rode in the president's limousine to the military base.

McClellan came back on the plane to the press cabin and shook hands all around. Someone said it was a sad moment, and McClellan replied, "It is sad on some level." He said he would accompany Bush on a trip to California this weekend and remain on the job for a couple more weeks.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

NPR Coverage