The Note: Symbolism, Message, Reality

WASHINGTON, Apr. 18

Neither Ed Rollins nor Bob Shrum took to the morning television airwaves this, uhm, American morning to suggest that the path to a politically resuscitated White House is a Rose Garden announcement of a new OMB director or a presidential push on American competitiveness, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Perhaps it was the desire for a "fresh face" that led the President to the guy who mastered the freshest of fresh faces (that of Sen. John Edwards) in 2004 as Vice President Cheney's debate prep partner.

ABC's Jessica Yellin reports that at 9:20 am ET, President Bush was expected to appear in the Rose Garden with US Trade Representative Rob Portman and announce him as his choice to replace Josh Bolten as the head of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Washington Post's Paul Blustein profiled Portman -- a "good man" if ever there was one, who the Hill loves -- when he was appointed as U.S. Trade Representative last March. LINK

Portman's official White House bio: LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Gregory Korte probed Portman after he played the role of stand-in for Edwards 2004 vice-presidential debate prep, but Portman didn't reveal much strategy. LINK

"I said 'y'all' a lot," Portman said.

To get a sense of his working style, be sure to read Portman's hometown paper's "day in the life" account from November 2005. LINK

As he fills one job, Mr. Bolten can now add another to his "to be filled" list. ABC's Yellin also reports this morning that Jim Towey, the director of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, is leaving the Bush Administration to head up Saint Vincent's College in Pennsylvania. LINK and LINK

No replacement has been announced.

President Bush then meets with the Prime Minister of Lebanon at 11:05 am ET and then visits a Rockville science and technology magnet school today to promote his competitiveness initiative, one of a series of events this week highlighting his economic proposals. Bush will tours and speaks at the Parkland Magnet School for Aerospace Technology, a 560-pupil middle school that specializes in applied math and science.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hosts retired military leaders in the lion's den today. The SecDef and Peter Pace also brief the media at 1:05 pm ET.

Vice President Cheney is scheduled to handle the national security messaging today when he speaks at a rally for the troops of the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS at 3:35 pm ET. This will be the vice president's second visit to a Kansas military installation this year; he stopped at Fort Leavenworth in January.

Gov. Mitt Romney is in California and Michigan for Commonwealth PAC finance meetings today.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is expected to appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" this evening at 11:35 pm ET.

Former Sen. Edwards (D-NC) is in Dallas, TX today to speak at the "Central Dallas Ministries' 11th Annual Urban Ministries Prayer Event" and to help raise funds for the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is in Austin, TX today on behalf of John Courage, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel and one of his prized recruits, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, hold a 3:00 pm ET press conference in Albuquerque, NM with senior citizens.

Bolten's free hand:

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times reports on Josh Bolten's "refresh and re-energize" approach. LINK

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