White House Deck Gets Reshuffled

Outgoing White House chief of staff Andy Card, left, and his replacement Joshua Bolten, right, flank President Bush as he speaks in the Oval Office of the White House Tuesday, March 28, 2006 in Washington.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Struggling to revive his troubled presidency, President Bush replaced longtime chief of staff Andy Card with budget director Joshua Bolten on Tuesday and gave Bolten authority to make further changes in a White House staff that even Republicans have complained is tired, insular and lacking fresh ideas.

Appearing with Bush in the Oval Office, Bolten gave no hint about what, if any, shake-up he might order. But White House officials said no one should doubt his ability to replace Bush aides. "He'll have all the authority he needs ... to make the decisions that he feels best, working with the president," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

But sources have told CBS News that the president told Bolten he wants a complete review of the White House staff — he wants to find out what works and what does not, and make some changes. CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports one source said "he's given Josh a free hand."

Like Card, Bolten, 51, is a Washington insider whose ties reach back to Bush's 2000 campaign for the White House, and CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports Bolton's appointment will not silence Republicans who have been calling out for a change. Democrats — as well as some Republicans — grumbled that the new White House boss looked a lot like the old one.

Mr. Bush said of Bolten, "He's a man of candor and humor and directness, who's comfortable with responsibility and knows how to lead. No person is better prepared for this important position."

Before being named budget director in 2003, Bolten was Card's deputy chief of staff for policy, a colleague of such senior aides as Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett.

Alarmed by Mr. Bush's falling approval ratings and White House mistakes — from the bungled Hurricane Katrina reaction to the ill-fated deal to allow an Arab company to manage U.S. ports — Republicans have been urging the president to bring in new advisers with fresh energy. The GOP's concerns have been heightened by anxiety over midterm congressional elections in November. Card, as chief of staff, became a target for blame.

Mr. Bush's approval rating remains at an all-time low of 34 percent, according to the latest CBS News poll. Just 28 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, while 66 percent say it's on the wrong track.