Adviser Rice will replace Colin Powell

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

In all, six of Bush's 15 Cabinet members will not be part of the president's second term.

By Tom Raum ~ The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Bush has selected Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser and trusted confidant, to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state, officials said Monday, in a major shakeup of the president's national security team. Three other Cabinet secretaries also resigned.

Powell, a retired four-star general who often clashed with more hawkish members of the administration on Iraq and other foreign policy issues, resigned in a Cabinet exodus that promises a starkly different look to President Bush's second-term team.

The White House on Monday announced Powell's exit along with the resignations of Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Bush's nomination of Rice is expected today, a senior administration official said.

Stephen Hadley, now the deputy national security adviser, is expected to replace Rice at the White House, the official said.

Powell said he has been discussing his departure with Bush in recent weeks and months. "I always indicated to the president I would serve for one term," Powell said, speaking shortly after the White House announced his resignation.

Combined with the resignations earlier this month of Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Attorney General John Ashcroft, six of Bush's 15 Cabinet members will not be part of the president's second term, which begins with his inauguration Jan. 20.

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, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman remained the most popular member of the administration.

In a resignation letter dated Nov. 12, Powell told Bush that, with the election over, it was time to "step down ... and return to private life." The Army man for 35 years said he would stay on "for a number of weeks, or a month or two" until his replacement was confirmed by the Senate.

Asked what he plans to do next, the 67-year-old Powell said, "I don't know."

Most of the speculation on a successor to Powell has centered on Rice, 50, who is generally seen as more hawkish and is one of Bush's closest advisers. She is widely considered the president's first choice for the top diplomat job despite reports that she intends to return to California -- she was provost at Stanford University -- or was hoping to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary.

Aides to Rice declined to comment. In Ecuador for a meeting of defense ministers, Rumsfeld gave no indication that he is on the verge of stepping down. "I have not discussed that with the president," he said when asked if he planned to resign.

Powell, one of the architects of the 1991 Persian Gulf War in the administration of Bush's father, often sparred in private with hard-line administration officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld over how to proceed in Iraq and the role of the international community.

The resignations come as Bush faces major challenges on both the foreign policy and domestic fronts. Internationally, the threat of terrorism looms, the fighting in Iraq continues with upcoming January elections in doubt and the Middle East landscape has shifted with the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

On the home front, Bush has called for ambitious second-term legislative priorities, including overhauling the tax code and Social Security.

Paige, 71, the nation's seventh education secretary, is the first black person to serve in the job in which he oversaw Bush's signature education law, the No Child Left Behind Act. The leading candidate to replace Paige is Margaret Spellings, Bush's domestic policy adviser who helped shape his school agenda when he was the Texas governor.

Abraham, 52, a former senator from Michigan, joined the administration after he lost a bid for re-election, becoming the nation's 10th energy secretary. Abraham struggled to persuade Congress to endorse the president's broad energy agenda.

Sources said that Abraham intends to stay in Washington, where he plans to work in private law practice.

Veneman, 55, the daughter of a California peach grower, was the nation's first woman agriculture secretary. Speculation on a potential replacement has centered on Chuck Conner, White House farm adviser; Allen Johnson, the chief U.S. negotiator on agricultural issues; Bill Hawks, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs; and Charles Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The resignations are on a par with what other presidents who have won second terms have experienced.

In 1984, President Reagan named a new attorney general and new Treasury, Interior, Labor, Energy, Education and Health and Human Services secretaries. In 1996, President Clinton tapped new secretaries at State and Defense as well as Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.

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