WASHINGTON - President Bush asked Treasury Secretary John Snow yesterday to stay on during his second term, ending more than a week of speculation and high-level leaks that suggested the White House was ready to sack him.
Snow, 65, will continue to serve as the nation's chief financial officer and leader of the president's economic team, making him the point man for selling Bush's ambitious plans to restructure Social Security and revamp the U.S. tax code.
"The president ... is pleased that Secretary Snow agreed to continue his service. He is a valuable member of our economic team," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said Snow was "honored to serve the president and to help him implement his agenda to strengthen the economy." Neither Bush nor Snow commented publicly.
The White House announcement makes Snow one of only two confirmed survivors of the president's first-term Cabinet. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also received a public invitation to stay.
Yesterday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi became the ninth of 15 Cabinet officers to announce his intention to depart. Principi said in his resignation letter that "it is now time for me to move on to fresh opportunities and different challenges."
Bush praised Principi as a "tireless advocate" for America's 25 million veterans, noting his efforts to improve care at VA hospitals, shorten waiting lists for medical services and reduce backlogs for disability claims.
The president's decision to keep Snow on the payroll was a victory for the secretary and his allies, who had waged an intense lobbying campaign to convince skeptics that the former CSX railroad boss was still the best man for the Treasury job.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.