Washington, June 16 (Reuters): US defence department spokesperson Victoria Clarke is leaving her post after two years as assistant secretary of defence for public affairs, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced today.
Praising Clarke for developing innovative ways of telling the military’s story to the public, Rumsfeld said the spokesperson has resigned as of next Friday for personal reasons.
Senior defence officials said Clarke, a public relations executive and spokesperson in the 1992 re-election campaign of former President George Bush, was leaving to spend more time with her family. She has had a close working relationship with Rumsfeld.
Clarke, known to colleagues and friends as “Torie,” will be replaced on an interim basis by Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Rumsfeld, until a permanent replacement is nominated by the White House and confirmed by the senate.
“I depart sadly because this has been the best professional experience of my life,” Clarke said in a brief statement.
“It has been a true honour working for the men and women of the US military.”
White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer, who also recently announced he would soon leave his post to return to private life, said Clarke would be missed.
“The White House will miss her, I will miss her, the President will miss her. She served our nation well,” Fleischer said.
The Washington Times reported last week that Clarke might be planning to take several months off and then join the communications team for the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush.