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Inauguration Issue: Team Players Inauguration Issue: Team Players

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Magazine / COVER STORY

Inauguration Issue: Team Players

January 15, 2005

Texas loyalists who will play key roles in Bush's second term:

Karl Rove, Senior Adviser to the President

Rove continues as Bush's in-house intellectual, his historian, and his go-between to conservatives. After dropping out of the University of Utah to head college Republican groups, Rove arrived in Texas in 1977 to work for a PAC supporting George H.W. Bush's presidential bid. In 1981, Rove founded an Austin direct-mail outfit, milking pulpy phrases such as "activist judges" and "jackpot justice." Over the next 10 years, Rove helped Texas Republicans climb out of obscurity and envisaged Bush as governor, later as president. In 1998, Rove acceded to Bush's request to work only for him.

 

Dan Bartlett, Counselor to the President

In 1992, as a University of Texas student, Bartlett went to work for Karl Rove's direct-mail operation, attracted by Rove's growing clout as a campaign consultant. As recalled in Texas Monthly, on his first day of work, Bartlett overheard a colleague announce a call for "Rove from POTUS" -- Bush's father -- and Bartlett knew where to hitch his wagon. Bartlett succeeded Karen Hughes to supervise all elements of Bush's communications, including speechwriting, message events, and state, local and international media. After the 2004 victory, Bartlett, at age 33, inherited Hughes's "counselor" title.

Margaret Spellings, Nominee, Secretary of Education

When education reform was one of the thickest planks in Gov. Bush's platform, Spellings was his resident education expert. Gov. Bush said he would deliver more decision-making powers to local school authorities, and he did, benefiting from Spellings's experience at the Texas Association of School Boards. Spellings came to D.C. to help write the No Child Left Behind Act, and became the president's adviser for all domestic policy in the White House. As the new Education secretary, Spellings must defend the accountability measure and its funding levels, and help extend similar mandates to high schools.

Clay Johnson, Deputy Director, OMB

Johnson and Bush bonded as teenagers, when the two Texas expatriates arrived in New England to attend Phillips Andover Academy and then Yale. The roommates parted for graduate school, with Bush going to Harvard and Johnson to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When Bush became governor of Texas, Johnson, who is the first to say that politics is not his strong suit, resurfaced as Bush's protective chief of staff. Now the "M" in the Office of Management and Budget, Johnson has experienced mixed results implementing Bush's management agenda, which seeks to expand competitive sourcing.

Gordon Johndroe, Press Secretary to Laura Bush

At age 30, Johndroe has already spent a third of his life working for the Bushes. In 1995, when he was a University of Texas sophomore, he joined then-Gov. Bush's office as an intern. Since then, he has advanced from running errands to managing press for the person the public admires most in this administration. As a green Homeland Security spokesman in 2003, he inadvertently sparked a run on duct tape and plastic sheeting with his answer to a reporter's question about emergency preparations. He says the lesson from Texas tutors Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett has been, "Don't screw up."

Scott McClellan, Press Secretary

Karen Hughes recruited McClellan in 1999 as a Bush campaign spokesman, and he was deputy press secretary under Ari Fleischer until 2003. McClellan's speech is so deliberate and reserved that his Texas pedigree is hard to detect, but he and Bush speak the same language. The McClellan clan is well recognized in Texas politics, though, because he helped his mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, become Austin's mayor and then state comptroller. Bush brought older brother Mark McClellan, an economist and physician, to the White House and keeps promoting him -- he now heads Medicare.

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