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Bush press secretary quits, Rove ends policy role

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Apr 19 (Reuters) White House press secretary Scott McClellan today announced his resignation and political adviser Karl Rove gave up his policy role in a shake-up of President George W Bush's senior aides.

The moves were part of an effort by new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, who started his job last weekend, to help Bush rebound from sagging poll numbers and bolster American confidence in his leadership.

''I have given it my all, sir,'' McClellan told Bush outside the White House before a group of reporters.

One of a group of Texans brought to the White House by Bush, McClellan said he would stay on over the next two or three weeks to allow time for a transition to his successor, who has not yet been named.

Administration officials said Rove would give up his policy development duties in order to focus more on political affairs, as Republicans try to hang on to control of both houses of Congress in the November mid-term elections.

Rove, another Texas insider, has been keeping a low profile while still remaining under investigation in a special prosecutor's probe into the leak of a CIA officer's identity in 2003.

Rove has been deputy White House chief of staff for policy development and Bush's top political adviser. His policy role will be taken over by Joel Kaplan, currently the deputy White House budget director, two administration officials said.

''This lifts a burden off of Karl,'' a top White House official said.

McClellan, 38, has been in the job more than 2-1/2 years.

He has been one of the most visible faces of the Bush administration and replacing him will give the president the chance to put a fresh face on his White House.

''Change can be helpful,'' McClellan said. He said he was ready to move on and suggested he would end up back in Texas before Bush gets there at the end of his term.

''I don't know whether or not the press corps realises it, but his is a challenging assignment dealing with you all on a regular basis. And I thought he handled his assignment with class and integrity,'' Bush said.

He added: ''It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he's made the decision, and I accept it.'' REUTERS KD KP2128

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