President keeps Card as staff chief to mold new Cabinet into shape
WASHINGTON – Beginning to put his team in place for his second term, President Bush decided to keep Andy Card as White House chief of staff, retaining an unflappable veteran of the Reagan and first Bush presidencies.
Card’s first assignment: help the president reshape the administration for the term that begins in January, sorting through possible personnel changes in the Cabinet and elsewhere.
Bush and Card moved deliberately and privately Monday, both staying out of public view after a weekend of brainstorming at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the subject of his future did not come up in several meetings with Bush since the election.
“Needless to say, either one of us would discuss it with the other before discussing it with you,” Rumsfeld told a roomful of reporters. Rumsfeld aides have said they expect him to remain in the job for the start of Bush’s new term, although whether he aims to stay the full four years is unclear.
A Treasury Department official in charge of keeping tabs on the nation’s financial markets, including Wall Street, announced that he intends to leave his post at the end of December. Brian Roseboro, the department’s undersecretary for domestic finance, revealed his intentions in a resignation letter to Bush. Roseboro, who has been at Treasury since 2001, was sworn in as undersecretary on April 16 of this year.
Top White House officials are said to be leaning on many of their subordinates to stay in place, part of an effort to maintain stability.
Card has the lead role, but Clay Johnson, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, who led Bush’s transition into the Oval Office in 2001, and Dina Powell, assistant to the president for personnel, are intimately involved in White House discussions on second-term personnel.
By accepting an invitation to continue serving, Card ensured his place in history as one of the longest-serving chiefs of staff. The last staff chief served five years was Sherman Adams, whose boss, President Eisenhower, created the position.
Card’s most visible moments came on Sept. 11, 2001, when he whispered in Bush’s ear that airliners had slammed into the World Trade Center; and Wednesday morning, when he told the world before dawn that Bush believed he had won the election.
Bush values Card for his generally low-profile style. Card doesn’t seek attention, only rarely granting news media interviews. He insists that White House staff members call Bush “Mr. President” but that they call him “Andy.”
Subordinates said they admire Card for his work ethic, steady hand and open-door policy.
Keeping Card aboard is “a real pin strike for the president,” said Nick Calio, Bush’s former liaison to Capitol Hill. “He is a very, very solid leader; he is one of the most capable people I have ever met or worked for in my entire life; and he manages without ego and solely on behalf of the president,” Calio said.
Another former staff adviser, Jay Lefkowitz, said Card “makes sure the president gets perspective from all relevant people on staff on any particular issue.”
“The Chief,” as Card is known at the White House, was appointed four years ago this month, even before the 2000 recount was resolved. He told The Associated Press in a February 2001 interview that he normally arrived at work at 5:30 and stayed until the president had retired for the night. Aides say Card, 57, continues that schedule nearly four years later.
“There’s a certain comfort walking into the West Wing when it’s still dark out, and seeing the light in Andy’s office on,” said Adam Levine, a former assistant White House press secretary.
Bush received congratulatory calls from leaders in Japan, China, Turkey and South Africa and dropped in on senior staff to thank them for their hard work, spokesman Scott McClellan said.
He also was informed of military developments in Fallujah, Iraq, where thousands of U.S. troops began a long-awaited offensive aimed at putting an end to guerrilla control of the Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad.
“Obviously, he is involved in signing off on these matters,” McClellan said.
“We consult closely with the interim government on those matters, and we’re there to help the Iraqi forces address these security challenges, and that’s what we’re doing,” McClellan said.