First lady picks Democrat as her No. 2

WASHINGTON: When selecting the next White House press secretary, George W. Bush turned to an experienced Washington hand in Ari Fleischer. But the nation's soon-to-be first lady, Laura Bush, has acted differently, selecting former Los Angeles deputy mayor Noelia Rodriguez to be her press secretary.

WASHINGTON: When selecting the next White House press secretary, George W. Bush turned to an experienced Washington hand in Ari Fleischer. But the nation's soon-to-be first lady, Laura Bush, has acted differently, selecting former Los Angeles deputy mayor Noelia Rodriguez to be her press secretary.

WASHINGTON: When selecting the next White House press secretary, George W. Bush turned to an experienced Washington hand in Ari Fleischer. But the nation's soon-to-be first lady, Laura Bush, has acted differently, selecting former Los Angeles deputy mayor Noelia Rodriguez to be her press secretary.

The selection of Rodriguez may come as something of a surprise to GOPers.

Rodriguez, a Democrat, spent much of the summer supervising preparations for the host committee of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

But she appeared unrepentant when asked about her party affiliation.

'I worked for a Republican mayor for seven years,' she said in a Los Angeles Times story, citing her prior work first as press secretary and then as deputy mayor to Los Angeles' Richard Riordan.

Rodriguez started work as a secretary at Southern California Edison, eventually rising to direct the company's corporate advertising program before being tapped by Riordan. Armando Azarloza, BSMG's general manager in Los Angeles, credited Rodriguez with having brought 'a much needed rudder' to the mayor's communications office.

Whether Rodriguez will have to grapple with that kind of problem in the first lady's office remains to be seen.

Laura Bush is considered to be influential behind the scenes with her husband and staff. Most observers expect she will be less outspoken than either the current first lady, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), or even her mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, who came to be a PR asset for the administration of the senior George Bush by becoming the 'national grandmother.'



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