Bush dodges questions about Snow

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WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush dodged questions Tuesday about whether he would keep Treasury Secretary John Snow in his Cabinet but said he was eager to hear recommendations for change from his new chief of staff. “I told Josh Bolten (chief of staff) that he is – will organize the White House in such a way that he is comfortable with and that meets my needs,” said Bush. “And my needs are to have good, crisp information so I can make decisions on behalf of the American people.”

Republicans close to the White House say they expect changes in Bush’s communications, congressional relations and domestic policy shops.

The political team, led by deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, is believed to be immune to change.

Critics have complained that Snow has not convinced the public that the economy is on a healthy upswing. Rumors about his departure created an awkward moment for Bush in the Roosevelt Room, where Bush discussed his initiative for health savings accounts. When a reporter asked Bush whether Snow was expected to remain in the Cabinet, the president noted that Snow was in the room.

“Secretary Snow is here at the table,” Bush said. “He’s been a part of this discussion. I’m glad you brought him up. He has been a valuable member of my administration, and I trust his judgment and appreciate his service.” But he did not say whether Snow would stay.

Asked later why the president didn’t simply dispel rumors of a Snow departure, White House press secretary Scott McClellan replied: “We’ve had a long policy of never speculating about personnel matters.”

McClellan ducked a question about his own fate. “I appreciate the question, and as I’ve said, I never speculate on personnel matters. Period.”

With widespread talk of a shake-up, some White House staffers report getting job offers from outside employers. Others who were planning to leave are considering staying longer so their departures are not viewed as part of any housecleaning.

Bolten must find someone to take his old job – director of the Office of Management and Budget – and find a new domestic policy adviser. Claude Allen left that post in February just before he was charged with theft for allegedly receiving phony refunds at department stores.



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The White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov

AP-ES-04-04-06 1812EDT

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