Edward J. Rollins, cochairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), will leave the $250,000-a-year post March 1 to become a political consultant, as will the committee's executive director, R. Marc Nuttle, Rollins said yesterday.
"I am tired of the day-to-day aspects of the job," Rollins said. "I don't want to be a spokesman." He is expected to join the Sawyer/Miller consulting firm but said he hoped to spend part of his time as a strategist for the committee.
Rollins said Vice President Quayle's deputy chief of staff and political adviser, E. Spencer Abraham, has been offered the NRCC's top staff job. Abraham, a former Michigan GOP chairman, has been asked to give the NRCC chairman, Rep. Guy Vander Jagt (R-Mich.), his answer next week.
Commenting on the publicity that surrounded his four-year, million-dollar agreement with Vander Jagt to plan the committee's strategy, Rollins said, "Whoever gets the job, the NRCC would be better served to keep the salary below what members of Congress make. My salary created a controversy that was not worth it. When members make $125,000, they don't want their employee making more."
There had been speculation that he would resign after he wrote a memorandum in October to Republican House candidates recommending that they distance themselves from President Bush on tax and budget issues.
Bush reportedly was so furious that he told party leaders he would not sign another NRCC fund-raising letter as long as Rollins held the job.
Sources said yesterday Rollins had discussed leaving before the flareup with the White House but that those clashes helped to cement his decision. One source said Rollins wanted to defy White House efforts to oust him by remaining for several months after the November election "to show the White House couldn't run him off."
Rollins, who was White House political director during the Reagan administration, has a habit of moving in and out of politics and government. "I never intended to make a career" of the House campaign committee, he said, adding that he had intended to keep his agreement to stay for four years when he signed up in January 1989.
At the time, Vander Jagt said he wanted "a superstar" at the NRCC, someone who would aggressively attack the Democrats.
Nuttle, who had worked in Pat Robertson's 1988 Republican presidential bid, said his consulting plans include working for the yet-to-be-created committee to reelect the president.
He said that his and Rollins's decision will not disrupt the upcoming congressional campaign plans. However, 1992 will be a critical year for the GOP's efforts to pick up seats in the House, with as many as 100 open seats expected.
Republicans currently hold 167 seats in the House, down nine from last year.
Staff writer Ann Devroy contributed to this report.