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Budget-Cruncher Bolten Takes on Top Bush Post

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush calls Joshua Bolten, his new chief of staff, a "creative policy thinker." In more informal circles, he's known as a budget cruncher who cruises around on a motorcycle.

After getting a two-week crash course from former White House chief of staff Andy Card, who is stepping down after more than five years in the job, Bolten, 51, will take on the arduous task of directing the West Wing and deciding who gets the ear of the president.

"He's a man of candor and humor and directness who's comfortable with the responsibility and knows how to lead," Bush said Tuesday in an Oval Office announcement.

Bolten, a discreet man generally viewed as a pragmatist who likes to get things done, said he is succeeding Card, but won't be filling his shoes.

"Andy cannot be replaced," Bolten said.

"I'm grateful for Andy's willingness to stay on for a couple of weeks to help break me in, and then I'm anxious to get to work," Bolten said.

Bolten has broad experience, having worked on Capitol Hill and Wall Street, on the White House staff, and for nearly three years as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"Josh is a creative policy thinker," Bush said. "He's an expert on the budget and our economy. He's respected by members of Congress from both parties. He's a strong advocate for effective, accountable management in the federal government."

Bolten has broad experience and has been with Bush from the moment he assumed the presidency.

In January 2001, he became assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy. In June 2003, Bolten was sworn in as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a Cabinet-rank position. After Bush's announcement of Bolten's new duties, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called Bolten a "master of the budget and economic issues."

Bolten was budget chief when the government ran its three largest deficits ever, including the record $413 billion shortfall in 2004 -- though the economy and years of decision-making by presidents and lawmakers were largely to blame.

He always insisted that the most important gauge was how the deficit compared to the size of the U.S. economy. Most economists agree that is the most telling way to understand how serious a problem the deficit is, but it is a measure that also made the red ink seem less severe because the economy is so huge.

Before sitting in the budget director seat, Bolten was assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House.

From March 1999 through November 2000, Bolten was policy director of the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. Previously, he was executive director of legal and government affairs for Goldman Sachs International in London.

While a government worker, Bolten sheds his bureaucratic tendencies when he straddles his motorcycle. In 2004, Bolten was with members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycling group who revved their engines on the White House driveway during a visit with Bush. The group, dedicated to POW/MIA issues, was holding its annual "Ride for Freedom" rally in the capital that day.

Bolten also worked for former President George H.W. Bush, serving for three years as general counsel to the U.S. Trade Representative and one year in the White House as deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

From 1985 to 1989, he was international trade counsel to the Senate Finance Committee. Earlier, Mr. Bolten was in a private law practice with O'Melveny & Myers, and worked in the legal office of the State Department. He also served as executive assistant to the director of the Kissinger Commission on Central America.

Bolten earned a bachelor's degree in international affairs from Princeton University in 1976 and a law degree in 1980 from Stanford University, where he was editor of the Stanford Law Review. Immediately after law school, he served as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. During the fall semester of 1993, Mr. Bolten taught international trade at Yale Law School.

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