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Bush taps Rice to replace Powell
Updated: 2004-11-16 20:28

President Bush turned to his most trusted foreign policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to lead U.S. diplomacy during his second term, replacing Secretary of State Colin Powell, who often was out of step with more hawkish members of the administration's national security team.

A senior administration official said Bush on Tuesday would nominate Rice, another move in a significant Cabinet shuffle that has included the exit not only of Powell, the administration's most prominent moderate, but also the resignation of Attorney General John Ashcroft , one of the administration's most outspoken conservatives.

Rice, who is considered more of a foreign policy hard-liner than Powell, has been Bush's national security adviser for four years. But while she's known around the globe, her image on the world stage does not rival Powell's. The retired four-star general has higher popularity ratings than the president.

Rice, 50, worked at the National Security Council in former President Bush's White House and went on to be provost of Stanford University in California before working in the current president's 2000 campaign. She was widely considered the president's first choice for the top diplomat's job, despite reports that she intended to return to California or was hoping to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary.

Stephen Hadley, Bush's current deputy national security adviser, is expected to be promoted to replace Rice, the senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

There had been speculation that Powell, 67, would stay on, at least for part of Bush's second term, but he told reporters Monday that he had made no offer to do so. In his resignation letter dated Nov. 12, Powell, a 35-year Army veteran and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Bush that, with the election over, it was time to "step down ... and return to private life." He said he would stay on "for a number of weeks, or a month or two" until his replacement was confirmed by the Senate.

Known for his moderate views and unblemished reputation, Powell went before the United Nations in February 2003 to sell Bush's argument for invading Iraq to skeptics abroad and at home. But Powell's case was built on faulty intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Still, he remained the most popular member of the administration.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, declined to answer questions about whether Bush asked Powell to step down, or tried to persuade him to stay.

Ivo Daalder, who served on President Clinton's National Security Council, suspects Powell was nudged out the door.

"It was a surprise," he said. "He had been telling people that he wanted to stay."

Powell's departure may affect internal debates on foreign policy, but "he lost a lot of those anyway," said Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy analyst at the liberal Brookings Institution. "I think what's more fundamental is whether these guys are going to change their world view."

Rumsfeld, traveling in Ecuador on Monday, told reporters he had not yet discussed his future with the president and would provide no hint as to whether he would continue with Bush's Cabinet, either for months or through the second term.

He praised Powell and said the news media had tried "to fabricate friction" between himself and the secretary of state.

Also on Monday, the White House announced the resignations of Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Venemen and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans resigned earlier this month, meaning six of Bush's 15 Cabinet members are leaving.

At least three Cabinet chairs could go to White House insiders, possibly reflecting Bush's desire to send trusted lieutenants to implement his policies in the agencies and extend his influence government-wide.

Besides Rice, Bush already picked White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to replace Ashcroft. Margaret Spellings, Bush's domestic policy adviser, is on the short list to replace Paige as education secretary. At least two more resignations are expected, and individuals close to the White House are among likely successors for these posts as well.

Tommy Thompson, the health and human services chief, has said he would take a break from government service after four years on the job at HHS and 14 as Wisconsin governor. The favorite to replace Thompson is Medicare chief Mark McClellan.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has told colleagues he'll probably leave because of his personal finances and job stresses. If he steps down, White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend is a possible successor. Other prospects are Asa Hutchinson, Homeland Security Department undersecretary for border and transportation security, and Thomas Kean, chairman of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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