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OMB Head To Replace Card as Top Bush Aide

Card has held the top staff job at the White House longer than any person since Sherman Adams, under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Card has earned respect within the building and around Washington for his stamina and calm professionalism.

Largely invisible to the public, Card is best known for his role on Sept. 11, 2001, as the person who informed Bush that a second hijacked plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York. As Bush was reading to students in a Florida classroom, Card calmly approached and whispered in his ear.

As chief of staff in the current administration, Card has been instrumental in some of Bush's signature achievements, including tax cuts, a broad education-revision package and the appointment of two Supreme Court justices. But his stewardship has come under sharp questioning in recent months after a series of mishaps, including the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the slow public disclosure of Vice President Cheney's shooting accident and the unexpected Republican revolt over a plan to turn over management at a half-dozen ports from a British firm to an Arab-owned company. Card also played a major role in the creation of the behemoth Department of Homeland Security, which has come under fire for profligate spending and its ineffective response to Katrina.

Card, 58, has been the focus of much speculation in Washington about how physically and politically exhausted the White House staff must be in the sixth year of a presidency buffeted by recession, terrorism and war. Card has told interviewers that he gets up every day at 4:20 a.m., arrives at the White House an hour or so later and works until 8 or 9 at night.

"On most days, Andy is the first one to arrive in the West Wing and the last one to leave," Bush said.

McClellan said Card initially told Bush that he wanted to resign on March 8, just one day before the port deal fell apart. Bush did not accept Card's resignation right away, but he did not reject it, either. "What the president did was examine it," a senior aide said. After thinking it through and pondering who would take over if Card left, the two talked again at Camp David on Saturday and finalized the move.

Some conservatives are glad to see Card go. Quin Hillyer, executive editor of the American Spectator magazine, offered a "friendly good riddance" to the chief of staff. "This White House is justly criticized for its insularity, and this little bit of shake-up may help break up that insularity just a little," he said. "Without saying anything bad about Andy Card, it's a good opportunity for the White House to get a new start."

Yesterday, Card's voice was thick with emotion as he left the Washington stage.

"Ecclesiastes reminds us that there are different seasons," he said. ". . . But it is a different season, and Josh Bolten is the right person for that season."

Staff writers Peter Baker and Mark Leibovich contributed to this report.

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