New Bush Counselor Likely To Set Agenda

Longtime allies of incoming White House counselor Ed Gillespie today said they expect he will arrive with a trademark strategic road map to help the president push his agenda forward and eventually depart Washington with a positive legacy.

"Ed is the master at strategic documents," said one ally, who gave Gillespie credit for drafting the 1994 GOP Contract With America. Others said that what Gillespie brings is longtime congressional experience, a deep knowledge of the conservative movement, and political skills honed on Capitol Hill and at the Republican National Committee, which he chaired.

They also said that he is a "grown-up" who is equal in stature to political guru Karl Rove.

Rove had a strained relationship with Dan Bartlett, who is resigning as counselor. Bush advisers believe that Gillespie will help turn around the president's slump in the polls and boost his relations on Capitol Hill.

But more important, said one adviser, is that they look for Gillespie to rebuild the president's "brand on trust and build confidence in the president among the base."

By Paul Bedard