During his press conference yesterday, President Bush addressed questions about expected personnel changes in his second term. The Wall Street Journal reports that so far, the "cast of characters in the Bush White House has been relatively stable, outside a midterm housecleaning of the first economic team." Bush said "'there will be some changes,' but added: 'I don't know who they will be.'" The "turnover rumors have included almost every prominent member of his administration," including both Secretary of State Colin Powell and his son, Michael, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. As many "as five top aides are seen coveting the Treasury slot, should John Snow leave," such as Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao "may want the Department of Transportation if Secretary Norm Mineta retires." Attorney General John Ashcroft "is the cabinet member most often cited as likely to be the first to go," with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited second. The CBS Evening News reported, "Expected departures: Health Secretary Tommy Thompson, and Homeland Security's Tom Ridge. Put a question mark on the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and Transportation's Mineta. White House Chief Of Staff Andrew Card is said to be interested in Treasury." On NBC Nightly News, Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said there are "discussions of whether Secretary of State Colin Powell will want to leave, replaced by national security advisor Condoleezza Rice or John Danforth. The Attorney General John Ashcroft, a favorite of evangelicals, probably will leave." Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge "scheduled to leave, probably this summer. Also, Tom, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. It's also expected the President well reach out to Democrats. Senator John Breaux is one prominently mentioned." Business Week reports insiders "now are betting that" Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "will be first to go." But Russert, on NBC, said Rumsfeld "wants to stay through the Iraqi elections in January. It's expected if he wants to stay, he'll stay for perhaps a half-year or a full year. He's not being pushed."
Ashcroft Likely To Leave Post Before Inauguration.
Multiple media sources reported on speculation that Attorney General John Ashcroft will be the first to leave the Administration. The AP reports Ashcroft is "likely to leave his post before the start of President Bush's second term, senior aides said Thursday." Ashcroft "is described as exhausted from leading the Justice Department in fighting the domestic war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." The Washington Times reports the "short list of potential replacements" include campaign chairman Marc Racicot; White House General Counsel Alberto Gonzalez; Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey; U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty in Virginia and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and former Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson. However, the Los Angeles Times reports Thompson "said he was 'fully engaged and committed' to a senior executive position he took last summer with PepsiCo in Purchase, N.Y., according to a statement issued by the soft drink and snack foods company." Thompson "would be the first African American attorney general."
McCain Suggests Lieberman For Attorney General.
On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (11/4), host Jay Leno interviewed Sen. John McCain. Asked if he expected the "healing process will include Democrats in the cabinet," McCain said, "Yes. In fact, you know, one of my dear friends is Joe Lieberman. I think he'd be great in the cabinet, I really do. I think he'd be a great attorney general. By the way, I haven't communicated that. You heard it here first. I haven't communicated that [to the President.]" Leno added, "Well, he watches the show."