Communications Director Hughes Leaves White House
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Communications Director Hughes Leaves White House

Karen Hughes, communications director to President George Bush and the most powerful woman in the administration, is leaving the White House. She will return to her native Texas to spend more time with her family.

Paul Holmes

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 25—Karen Hughes, communications director to President George Bush and the most powerful woman in the administration, is leaving the White House. She will return to her native Texas to spend more time with her family, but will reportedly continue to counsel Bush from a distance and remain part of his “inner circle.”
 
Said Hughes, “Throughout my career I have tried to prioritize my family while I have a career. I’ve prided myself that this is a family-friendly White House, and I think this is a family-friendly decision.”
 
Hughes was known among reporters for running the White House with an unusually firm hand, preventing leaks to the media. According to Walter Shapiro, a speechwriter in the Carter administration, “All Hughes ever dished out was bland and watery gruel. As Bush’s communications director, she has been democratic to a fault, cleaving to an equal-opportunity policy built around a consistent lack of information and insight.”
 
Nevertheless, most of the media coverage of her departure praised both her loyalty and her ability to control the flow of information from the White House. She was said to have helped Bush communicate with a broader constituency, highlighting Bush’s so-called “compassionate conservatism,” and providing a balance to Bush’s top political advisor, Karl Rove.
 
“She was the one who could say, ‘This is what’s missing from our message and this is what we have to do,’” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
 
Said Bush “Karen Hughes will be changing her address, but she will still be in my inner circle. I value her judgment and I will have her judgment.”
 
It is unclear who will succeed Hughes and whether that successor will have the same influence. Most reports suggested that her deputy, Dan Bartlett, would assume many of her responsibilities—though not her title. There was also speculation in the Washingtonian and elsewhere that Fleischer could be the next to depart the administration by the end of the year, with former Hill & Knowlton exec and Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke a possible replacement.
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