The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two aides quit in Bush shake-up

Washington, April 19 (Reuters): President George W. Bush’s press secretary Scott McClellan resigned today and senior adviser Karl Rove gave up the policy-development part of his job in a White House shake-up.

The moves were part of an effort by new White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, who started work last weekend, to help Bush rebound from sagging polls and bolster American confidence in his leadership.

Bush’s job approval ratings are hovering around the high 30s, the lowest of his presidency, pushed down in part by growing public disillusion with the Iraq war.

“I have given it my all, sir,” a choked-up McClellan told Bush outside the White House before a group of reporters in a surprise announcement.

McClellan’s departure comes after nearly three years in the job. Republican critics have called the White House communications operation ineffective, and although McClellan has not been in charge of it, his has been a highly visible face.

McClellan, 38, doggedly stuck to his talking points through day after day of often contentious media briefings.

“It is an opportunity as we continue to work through this transition to bring new faces and new members to the team to help enact the President’s agenda,” a senior White House official said.

Rove’s job change meant that he has survived the shake-up, although with a shrunken portfolio. White House insiders said they expected him to remain as influential as ever.

Some critics have called for a more-dramatic administration overhaul, such as replacing defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and treasury secretary John Snow.

Rove is a political operative instrumental in Bush’s two presidential election victories and a lightning rod for Democratic critics. He added policy development to his portfolio.

But major second-term initiatives such as a social security overhaul stalled, and Republicans said Bolten wanted to bring in his own person. Rove’s policy role will be taken over by Joel Kaplan, currently the deputy White House budget director. Rove, one of Bush's core group from Texas, remains under investigation for possible perjury charges related to the leak of a CIA official’s identity in 2003.

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