In what some feel could be the beginning of a major shakeup of the Bush administration, White House chief of staff Andrew Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten.
President George W. Bush made the announcement in the Oval Office at 8:30 a.m. EST.
Card will depart the White House on April 14.
The move comes as Bush has been buffeted by increasing criticism of the drawn-out war in Iraq and as fellow Republicans have suggested pointedly that the president bring in new aides with fresh ideas and new energy.
Card came to Bush recently and suggested that he should step down from the job that he has held from the first day of Bush’s presidency, said the administration official.
Bush decided during a weekend stay at Camp David, Md., to accept Card’s resignation and to name Bolten as his replacement, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to pre-empt the president.
Bolten is widely experienced in Washington, both on Capitol Hill as well as at the White House, where he was deputy chief of staff before becoming director of the Office of Management and Budget.
At a White House news conference last week, Bush was asked about rumors that a shake up in the White House staff was in the works. Bush said he was “satisfied with the people I’ve surrounded myself with.”
“I’ve got a staff of people that have, first of all, placed their country above their self-interests,” he said at the time. “These are good, hard- working, decent people. And we’ve dealt with a lot. We’ve dealt with a lot. We’ve dealt with war. We’ve dealt with recession. We’ve dealt with scandal. We’ve dealt with Katrina.
“I mean, they’ve had a lot on their plate. And I appreciate their performance and their hard work and they’ve got my confidence,” he said.
Bush said, “We’ve been a remarkably stable administration, and I think that’s good for the country.”
A veteran of the administrations of both President Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush, Card was widely respected by his colleagues in the Bush White House. They fondly called him “chief.”
He usually arrived at work in the West Wing by around 5:30 a.m. and frequently did not leave until 9 or 10 p.m.
Associates said that Card, who was Secretary of Transportation and deputy chief of staff, had wanted to establish himself as the longest serving White House chief of staff. James Steelman, who was President Harry S. Truman’s chief of staff, had served for six years and Card’s tenure will have gone not much longer than five years.
A recent AP-Ipsos Poll found that Bush’s job approval has dipped to 37 percent, his lowest rating in that poll. Nearly 70 percent of people say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a six-point jump since February. Bush’s job approval among Republicans plummeted from 82 percent in February to 74 percent, a troubling sign for the White House in an election year.