Ailing White House press secretary Tony Snow resigns | PostIndependent.com
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Ailing White House press secretary Tony Snow resigns

TERENCE HUNT
AP White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) ” President Bush named a new press secretary on Friday, replacing the high-profile showman Tony Snow with his quieter, stickler-for-detail deputy, Dana Perino.

Snow, 52, battling cancer, said he was stepping down because he needed to earn more than his $168,000 White House salary ” an amount far less than he made as host of the “Tony Snow Show” on Fox News Radio and “Weekend Live with Tony Snow” on the Fox News Channel. “I ran out of money,” said Snow, the father of three.

Perino, 35, will be only the second woman to be White House press secretary when she takes over Sept. 14. The first was Dee Dee Myers in the Clinton administration. With a reputation for being thorough and getting back to reporters with questions, Perino temporarily became the public face of the White House when Snow was out of work for five weeks after a recurrence of cancer in March.



“He leaves very big shoes to fill, and I only wear a size 6,” said Perino, who is “almost 5-feet-1.”

Snow was named press secretary on April 26, 2006, and White House officials were delighted with his striking popularity around the country, relentlessly good-natured and bright tone, and smooth, snappy repartee with the media during televised briefings. He often played to the cameras, waving his arms and making funny faces at questions he didn’t like.



His briefings were known ” even among White House officials ” as the “Tony Snow Show.”

While Snow had blistered Bush with criticism at times as a pundit and talk show host, he was relentlessly loyal as his press secretary.

“It’s been a joy to watch him spar with you,” Bush told the White House press corps in the briefing room. “He’s smart, he’s capable, he’s witty.”

Snow’s quick-from-the-lip answers sometimes got him in trouble. “I used a dumb line,” he acknowledged after justifying a monthlong recess for Iraqi lawmakers because “it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August.” He backtracked after it was pointed out that U.S. troops didn’t get a break from the summer heat. In another prominent instance, Snow had to retreat after blaming Kansas’ Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius, for a slow response to a devastating tornado on May 4 in Greensburg, Kan.

Snow said cancer was not a factor in his departure.

In 2005, Snow had his colon removed and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer. This March, he underwent surgery to remove a growth in his abdominal area, near the site of the original colon cancer. Doctors determined it was a recurrence of his cancer.

After surgery and a five-week absence, he returned to the White House and underwent chemotherapy. The treatments left him thinner, grayer and with less hair but he retained his high energy and eagerness for briefings.

Snow was the latest in a string of White House officials to head for the exits. Friday was the last day of work for political strategist Karl Rove.

Snow was Bush’s third chief spokesman in just over six years. Perino is a former Capitol Hill aide who worked briefly as a television reporter in Champaign, Ill., handled publicity for technology companies, served as a Justice Department press aide and was associate director of communications at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“There is no one better suited, in the sense she has earned the complete trust of the president, is well-known and regarded within the White House, has well-established relations with the press and has a good TV presence,” said former press secretary Scott McClellan, who brought her to the press office.


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