WASHINGTON -- President Bush named a Washington insider yesterday to one of the most important jobs among his senior aides, choosing Edward W. Gillespie, a lobbyist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, as his new White House counselor.
Under Bush, that job previously was held by Karen Hughes and then Dan Bartlett - two Texans who had no White House experience but had ties to Bush that date to his earliest days as a gubernatorial candidate.
In picking Gillespie, Bush abandoned that model, selecting a political veteran who has strong relationships with congressional Republicans.
In announcing his decision in the Oval Office, Bush praised his new senior adviser as "a good strategic thinker," saying: "He is a seasoned hand who has got excellent judgment."
Gillespie, 45, is known as a fierce fighter who is never "off message" in public. During Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, Gillespie served as Bush's "surrogate" to deliver sharply partisan messages so the president could stick to more high-minded political rhetoric.
The choice of Gillespie continues a trend in Bush's second term of filling senior jobs with a broader mix of candidates. The change suggests shifting needs in the White House as Bush struggles to push a few major policy initiatives, including an overhaul of immigration laws, through a Democratic-led Congress. Bush is also fending off efforts to scale back the U.S. role in Iraq and working to repair ties with conservatives.