Bush makes staff changes as 2004 election closes in

WASHINGTON: President Bush is moving his 2004 campaign staff into place, rewarding old loyalists and giving younger hands a chance to prove themselves on the national stage.

WASHINGTON: President Bush is moving his 2004 campaign staff into place, rewarding old loyalists and giving younger hands a chance to prove themselves on the national stage.

The director of communications role, held in 2000 by Karen Hughes (the loyal aide who became Bush's senior White House advisor before returning to Texas last year), has been handed to Nicolle Devenish. The 31-year-old is currently the director of media relations at the White House, which puts her in charge of regional press strategy and outreach. No stranger to the Bush family, Devenish was Florida Governor Jeb Bush's press secretary in his 1999 campaign. She also served as communications director for the Florida State Technology office in 2000.

Ed Gillespie, longtime Republican communicator and now co-owner of public affairs shop Quinn Gillespie Associates (QGA), which late last year was the object of a failed acquisition by Omnicom, is rumored to become the next head of the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Gillespie's name has been suggested as a replacement for several Bush staffers in past years, most recently Ari Fleischer. Reports suggest that a deal is being made whereby Gillespie could head the RNC without severing his QGA ties.

At the time of the Omnicom negotiations, QGA cited the acquisition as evidence that Gillespie had no plans to leave the firm for the administration, as rumors had suggested.

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