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Bolten to replace Card as W.House chief of staff

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Mar 28 (Reuters) After more than five years of service through often turbulent times, White House chief of staff Andrew Card resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, President George W Bush announced today.

Card's departure comes amid calls -- even within Republican circles -- for Bush to make changes that would revitalize his struggling team.

In the Oval Office, Bush said Card had offered and he had accepted his resignation. He is to depart the White House on April 14.

''I have relied on Andy's wise counsel, his calm in crisis, his absolute integrity and his tireless commitment to public service,'' Bush said with Card at his side.

If Card had stayed on until September he would have become the longest-serving chief of staff ever, surpassing the record of Sherman Adams, Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff for five years and nine months.

Bush said Card was returning to private life. There had been speculation he might replace Treasury Secretary John Snow.

Bolten, who rides a Harley-Davidson and is part of a White House rock band, became director of the Office of Management and Budget after serving as deputy chief of staff in the White House from 2001 to 2003.

He is the son of a CIA officer and is known in the White House as a quietly effective manager.

''I'm honored Josh has agreed to serve,'' Bush said.

An administration official said Card came to Bush about three weeks ago and offered his resignation and after a number of discussions the president accepted it during the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat.

Card has been chief of staff since Bush took over the presidency in January 2001, serving through the September 11 attacks and shepherding to confirmation Bush's two nominations to the US Supreme Court.

However, the White House has come under increased criticism in the past year as it has weathered a number of crises, including its handling of Hurricane Katrina, the ongoing war in Iraq and the recent flap over a proposed sale of some key US port operations to an Arab-owned company.

The senior administration official said Bolten ''knows how this White House operates,'' and is very well respected. He said a smooth transition was expected.

Reuters DKS GC2005

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