President Bush, kicking off the first full week of his transition to a second term, made a surprise visit yesterday to the daily senior staff meeting with a news bulletin: Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. will stay in his job.
It pays to be on time around the Bush White House. The president stopped by the Roosevelt Room at precisely 7:30 a.m., when the meeting was scheduled to begin.
The decision appears to signal that Bush wants workaday continuity and plans to continue running a tight White House.
Card, 57, is known internally as "The Chief" and around the administration as "Secretary Card," for serving as transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush.
Card, who also served in the Reagan administration, noted in November 2001 that chiefs of staff rarely last more than a few years. He would be the first chief of staff to serve five years since President Dwight Eisenhower imported the title from the Army for Sherman Adams in 1953.
Card, a native of Massachusetts, arrives at the West Wing before dawn and greets Bush when he steps into the Oval Office, usually around 6:50 a.m. Card, who sets the tone for the White House's message of discipline, is responsible for everything from negotiating legislation with congressional leaders to scheduling the president's haircuts.
Bush, back from a three-day weekend at Camp David, started by thanking his aides for their hard work and then said he had made one personnel decision that he was ready to announce. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that over the weekend, Bush had asked Card to stay on.
"Andy Card was honored to accept," McClellan said.
Card and White House senior adviser Karl Rove had started sketching the second-term Cabinet before the election. Some Cabinet members will stay, but several high-profile ones are expected to eventually depart, according to administration officials.
The personnel side of the transition is being managed by Dina Powell, the presidential personnel director, and Clay Johnson III, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Johnson, a longtime friend of the president and first lady Laura Bush, was executive director of the Bush-Cheney presidential transition after the 2000 election.
McClellan gave his first televised briefing since Sept. 15 because of the campaign hiatus, when he answered questions aboard Air Force One and at rallies. McClellan declines to answer most questions about Cabinet comings and goings.
In the first of many resignation letters Bush is likely to receive, Brian Roseboro, Treasury's undersecretary for domestic finance, wrote that he plans to return home to his family in New Jersey.