INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Campbell may fill a non-press role

LONDON: The British government is downplaying reports that Alastair

Campbell, Prime Minister Tony Blair's press secretary, will assume a

more strategic role following the election.

Papers have speculated that Campbell will be appointed to a new post as

director of communications, following the White House's PR model. This

would involve the press secretary moving away from direct press

briefings and taking on a role more akin to that of Karen Hughes,

President Bush's counselor.

Mike McCurry, President Clinton's former press secretary, said Blair's

team had studied the US model before coming to power. 'It is very

difficult to maintain the daily drill of handling press relations in an

environment like the White House or Number 10 and simultaneously think

about strategy.'

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