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The Nation

Bush Advisor to Rejoin the Political Fray

March 29, 2004|From the Washington Post

AUSTIN, Texas — President Bush's confidant Karen P. Hughes returned to the public stage Sunday with plans to weave her combative defense of the White House into a six-week book tour, then go on the campaign payroll in mid-August.

Prominent Republicans outside the White House have been lamenting for months the absence of her political acumen to assist a campaign and administration that have suffered repeated public relations setbacks.

Hughes, 47, gave up her title of counselor to the president in July 2002 so her son, Robert, could go to high school back home in Texas.

The memoir, to be published Tuesday, is called "Ten Minutes from Normal," referring to an announcement from the conductor on Bush's campaign train about a town in Illinois.

Bush is portrayed as a commanding presence who likes short sermons and despises leaks from lower-level aides. When Hughes was in the West Wing, she served as a balance of power with Karl Rove, Bush's senior advisor, and witnesses have provided vivid accounts of their showdowns in meetings.

Hughes has been the guardian of Bush's public message throughout his political career, through two campaigns for Texas governor, the primary and general elections of 2000, the recount and into the White House -- so much so that she said she feared she "might end up writing a book that sounds like him instead of me."

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