WASHINGTON, D.C.—After sparring with the media one last time on Monday, Ari Fleischer is leaving his position as chief spokesman for the Bush administration and will open Ari Fleischer Communications, a Washington-based firm that will advise corporate executives on working with the media. The firm is expected to open its doors after Labor Day.
But first Fleischer is expected to go on the public speaking circuit, signing up with the Washington Speakers Bureau—which represents leading political figures such as Al Gore and Rudolph Giuliani. His fee could be as much as $50,000 per engagement, experts say. He will also write a book about his time working with the White House press corps.
He spent his last day answering questions about how erroneous statements concerning Saddam Hussein’s attempts to acquire nuclear materials found their way into the President’s State of the Union address. He concluded the briefing with a thank you speech in which he offered gratitude to everyone from the Secret Service to reporters.
Fleischer is being replaced as press secretary by Scott McClellan, 35, described by the Associated Press as an “easygoing Texan… affable but tough….” According to the AP, “While he often discusses issues more expansively than some of his colleagues, McClellan also can frustrate reporters by sticking to the administration’s talking points — talking around an issue and leaving questions essentially unanswered.”
For the past two years, McClellan has been the deputy White House spokesman, occasionally filling in for Fleischer. He joined Bush’s staff in Texas in early 1999 and soon became the then-Governor’s deputy communications director. He was the traveling press secretary for the Bush 2000 presidential campaign.