President Bush will recommend Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter to replace ailing Lee Atwater as chairman of the Republican National Committee, the White House said Monday.
Although Yeutter, 60, has little political experience, "You're going to see an aggressive campaigner," White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said in announcing Bush's decision.Administration officials had told reporters last Friday that Yeutter was Bush's choice. Although the president had refused to confirm the decision at a brief news conference at the time, he voiced strong confidence in Yeutter.
The administration's first effort to name a new RNC chairman turned out to be an embarrassment when former drug policy director William Bennett first accepted the offer, then turned it down, citing financial restrictions.
There has been speculation that former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, R-Minn., was a leading contender to replace Yeutter. However, Fitzwater would neither confirm nor deny that Boschwitz was in line for the post.
Fitzwater said Yeutter would remain in the agriculture post for another month or so.
Atwater, disabled since last spring with a brain tumor, will receive the title of general chairman of the RNC while Yeutter will serve as "national chairman," Fitzwater said.