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The Baltimore Sun


White House budget chief

Richard Darman, a former White House budget director who helped persuade former President George H.W. Bush to renege on his no-new-taxes pledge, died yesterday in Washington.

Mr. Darman had battled leukemia for several months, said former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a longtime friend.

Mr. Darman was chief architect of a compromise designed to reduce the federal budget deficit. Although it drew praise from many economic analysts, the plan included tax increases that broke Mr. Bush's 1988 election promise, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

Although the change of policy is partly blamed for Mr. Bush's loss to Bill Clinton in 1992, it contributed to balancing the federal budgets in the late 1990s.

A talented and tough negotiator, Mr. Darman sometimes drew criticism for being abrasive, intellectually arrogant and overly concerned with his standing in the White House pecking order. He had a reputation for being so crafty that Darmanesque became a word to describe maneuvering that was clever and Machiavellian.

Mr. Darman had a more playful side and was known for pranks. He once donned a gorilla suit to amuse his boss, the president.

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