Top Bush aide leaving White House
Top Bush aide leaving White House
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent 1 hour,
36 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Dan Bartlett, one of President Bush's
most trusted advisers and his longest-serving aide,
said Friday he is resigning to begin a career outside
The move was announced on Bartlett's 36th birthday. He
has been with Bush for nearly 14 years, from Bush's
first campaign as governor of Texas, through two races
for the White House and more than six years of a
presidency marked by costly wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan and an ongoing battle against terrorism.
"His contribution has been immeasurable. I value his
judgment and I treasure his friendship," Bush said in
a statement. "Since coming to work for me fourteen
years ago as I prepared to run for governor, Dan has
become a husband and a father. I understand his
decision to make his young family his first priority."
As counselor to the president, Bartlett has been at
the center of White House decision-making, stepping
into the public eye in times of trouble to defend Bush
on everything from the unpopular war in Iraq to the
government's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina and
the Republicans' loss of Congress.
He is known as someone who has Bush's ear, one of few
people who can give the president bad news or tease
him about wearing a brown suit disliked by the White
House staff and nicknamed Big Brown.
"He can talk to the president in a candid way, in sort
of a family way, that almost nobody else can," White
House chief of staff Joshua Bolten told The Associated
Press. "He can talk to him about Big Brown, he can
joke with him. He's got the Texas roots that make it
possible for them to talk about characters in Texas
politics or Longhorn football or Texas Rangers'
baseball. He's been a good friend of the president as
well as a counselor."
With the exception of Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld's resignation last November, Bartlett's
departure marks the first major turnover in Bush's
senior staff since a major reshuffling a year ago to
reinvigorate the administration and overcome low poll
ratings. Within a period of weeks, Bush had named a
new chief of staff, treasury secretary, press
CIA chief, budget director, and trade representative.
Despite the changes, Bush a year later still remains
near record lows in the polls.
Bolten said Bartlett's resignation, effective around
July 4, did not signal a new round of changes as Bush
moves into the final 600 days of his presidency.
With twin, 3-year-old boys and another son born in
January, Bartlett said it was time to pursue a new
chapter of his life and "reacquaint myself with my
family." His wife, Allyson, had joked that they should
name their newborn "Exit Strategy."
Bartlett said he was open to job opportunities and had
retained Washington attorney Bob Barnett to help him
in the search.
It is a point of pride with Bartlett that he is Bush's
longest serving staffer longer than even political
strategist Karl Rove, another Bush confidant whose
tenure was interrupted by work as a political
consultant. Before teaming up with Bush, Bartlett
worked for Rove's Austin-based consulting firm.
Bartlett said he would not write a book about his
experiences, would not seek a political career in
Texas and would not align himself with any Republican
candidate in the 2008 presidential election.
"It's been a roller coaster that seems always to go
up," Bartlett said of his White House years. "There
have been extremely proud moments to see our country
rise up during a time of national challenge."
He said he had no regrets about the Iraq war and he
believes Bush's low approval ratings were the result
of making tough decisions.
"Sometimes when you lead the country you do difficult
things, that you're going to experience periods that
are going to be rocky, particularly when it has to do
with war and loss of life," Bartlett said.
"It will be one of those things, when I hang up the
spurs for the last time, I'll be able to look in the
mirror and say, `I know this president and this White
House did what they thought was right.' And at the end
of the day, that's all you can do."
Bolten said Bartlett had made "a big contribution on
almost everything that's important. He's one of the
two or three people under 40 whose judgment, I think,
rivals anybody else's judgment in government today.
The president has a lot of confidence in him, and
everybody else around here does, too."