Rove Replacement Seen as Highly Partisan Go-Getter
While President Bush was in Australia last week, the White House completed the divvying-up of Karl Rove's sizable and important portfolio.
Rove's longtime deputy Barry Jackson is taking over management of the four offices Rove supervised (political affairs, intergovernmental relations, public liaison and strategic initiatives), while new White House counselor Ed Gillespie will assume Rove's more amorphous role of providing Bush broader strategic advice -- with an assist from Jackson and communications chief Kevin Sullivan.
Jackson is one of those Washington worker bees who is virtually unknown outside the White House fence but is well-regarded inside. Early in the Bush presidency, he coordinated the so-called Strategery Group, the senior officials who met regularly for long-term planning under Rove's auspices.
Until he joined the White House in 2001, the District native was perhaps best known as a key operative, promoter and chief of staff for Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), now House minority leader. Jackson impressed Rove with his assistance in the 2000 campaign, including helping to manage the GOP convention in Philadelphia and organizing a group of Republican governors to campaign on Bush's behalf.
Jackson is seen as cool, analytical and fiercely partisan -- "none of this 'let's get along' kind of stuff," in the words of one GOP acquaintance from Capitol Hill, who described Jackson "as the man behind The Man."
Jackson was not doing interviews last week, but Rove spoke up on his behalf, describing his friend as kind of an adept utility player who handled outreach and coordination with outside groups on thorny domestic issues such as trade, the farm bill and immigration.
"If there was something I was worried about falling through the cracks, that involved external outreach, I would put it on Barry's agenda," Rove said. "If there was a need for the president to make a phone call, it happened. If there was a need for the president to meet with advocates in the Roosevelt Room, it happened."
Plus, Rove said, "no one inside the administration pays more careful attention and understands with greater moral clarity the intricacies of NASCAR than Barry Jackson."
One thing Jackson will not enjoy is Rove's title-- deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to the president -- which reflected Rove's immense influence in the White House. Jackson is now "assistant to the president for strategic initiatives and external affairs."
Filling Snow's Shoes
When Dana Perino was named to replace outgoing White House press secretary Tony Snow, the conventional wisdom was that she had the substance but little of the flash that Snow brought to the job. That may be true at the briefing podium, but her potential star power was very much on display when Perino joined President Bush last week on his surprise visit to Iraq's al-Asad Air Base.
The desert installation is home to 10,000 U.S. troops, and they treated the stylish Perino like a celebrity, reports Post reporter Michael Fletcher, who was on the trip with Bush. She rivaled "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric for attention from the troops, who repeatedly asked her to pose for pictures in their midst.
Perino said she was happy to oblige. "I am very humbled by our troops -- they are some of the most decent, honorable and courageous on Earth," she said. "And I was thrilled to meet some of the Iraqi security forces, too. I could tell there was mutual respect and a shared goal between them. It was a great trip."