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Bolten Prepares To Assume Top White House Position


Republicans in Congress are hoping that incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten will help turn around President Bush's faltering political fortunes. Bolten will soon replace longtime Bush chief of staff Andy Card.

The high level staff change comes in the wake of low public approval ratings for the president and demands from Republicans for a shakeup in the White House. Mr. Bush describes Josh Bolten as a creative policy thinker.

Mr. Bush said, "He is a man of candor and humor and directness who is comfortable with responsibility and knows how to lead."

Bolten is currently budget director and served in the White House during the president's first term.

Mr. Bolten said, "You have set a clear course to protect our people at home, to promote freedom abroad and to expand our prosperity."

Bolten replaces Andy Card who is returning to private life after having served Mr. Bush for nearly five and one-half years, the second longest tenure for a White House chief of staff in history.

Card is best remembered as the aide who whispered in the president's ear that America was under attack on September 11th, 2001.

Stephen Hess is a presidential expert and a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University.

He says presidents often make staff changes in their second terms, especially when faced with low public approval ratings.

Mr. Stephen Hess said, "Lots of people have been demanding a shakeup. It happens in every administration when a president is in trouble. Those in Washington, the so called pundits, sometimes others, say, do not just stand there, do something."

Congressional Republicans worry that President Bush's weak position in public opinion polls could hurt their re-election chances in the November midterm Congressional elections.

Some Republicans had urged the president to go outside his inner circle and choose a more senior figure to head the White House staff in hopes of turning around negative views of the administration's handling of Iraq and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

John Fortier is a political expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Mr. Fortier said, "I think people will be happy with Josh Bolten as a competent person who will come in and fill the shoes that Andy Card filled before. But there really is no new blood. I think what people are looking for is some senior person, some senior Republican who has standing on his own to come into the White House and be able to talk to Bush outside of the existing staff that he has."

Political experts say it is rare for high level staff changes to have much impact on how the public views a president and his policies. But analyst Stephen Hess says there have been times when it did have an impact.

Mr. Stephen Hess said, "I think it made a difference that Ronald Reagan brought in former senator, Howard Baker after the Iran Contra Scandal. Why? It was a scandal. Things needed a cleaning out and a new person came in to help do that. That was a fairly unique thing. This present situation with George W. Bush, whatever his problems are, they do not have to do with an individual scandal."

Instead, Stephen Hess says, it is public discontent about Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq that is at the heart of the administration's political problems.

Mr. Hess said, "I mean, this is primarily about Iraq. There is no sense in talking about his education policy or something like that. I mean, he has been in office now for nearly six years. He has got one major policy in which he has thrown all the chips into the game. Is it going to work? We shall see."

After a brief transition with Andy Card, Josh Bolten will assume his new duties in mid April.

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