Howard Baker will resign as White House chief of staff and be replaced by his deputy, Kenneth Duberstein, on July 1, it was announced Tuesday.
In addition, White House communications director Thomas C. Griscom intends to leave his post but has not said when he will leave, said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.Baker, widely regarded as a potential vice presidential candidate on a ticket with George Bush, said he was not interested in the job but would not turn it down.
"You don't turn down requests of that sort if they are made," Baker said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"It's really something that is presumptuous in the extreme, to say, `No I would not do that.' But I do not want to do that, I do not expect to do that and I think it's extremely unlikely I would be asked to do that," Baker said.
Looking back over his 16 months as chief of staff, Baker said, "If
there is a legacy, it is that we brought cooperation and direction to the White House and to the staff. It was really in a pretty low state when we got here.
"And I couldn't ascertain that there was any agenda much," Baker said. "We had to sort of invent one and take it to the president."
Although Baker had promised Reagan to stay until the end of the administration next January, he asked the president to be excused from that commitment, citing the ill health of his wife, Joy, and stepmother, Irene, who are both hospitalized, Fitzwater said.
"Sen. Baker has been a close friend and adviser who has guided my staff deftly and effectively for the last 16 months," Reagan said. "He held a steady hand in the operation of the White House while the Iran-Contra investigations were being conducted and his wise counsel fostered the spirit of cooperation in which those issues were presented to the American people."