John W. Snow, President Bush's choice to be treasury secretary, is a lawyer and economist who helped build Richmond-based CSX Corp. into one of the nation's largest railroad companies.

Snow, 63, also served in several posts in the Ford administration in the 1970s, as did the man he would replace if confirmed by the Senate, Paul O'Neill, who resigned on Friday under White House pressure.

As chairman of the influential Business Roundtable, Snow is well known within the business community, on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street.

A Republican with ties to moderate Democrats, Snow has been an outspoken advocate in calling for a balanced budget and spending restraint — a position that he may have to modify as he becomes the administration's chief salesman for Bush's upcoming package of spending stimulus and tax cuts to bolster the sagging economy.

Snow has also spoken out strongly in favor improved business ethics in corporations.

Unlike the blunt-spoken O'Neill, Snow has a reputation for smoothness and consensus-building.

"John Snow has excelled as a business leader, an expert on economic policy, an academic and as a public servant," Bush said in announcing Snow's nomination on Monday. "John Snow will be a key adviser on the economy and a key advocate of my administration's agenda for growth, new jobs and wider and more international trade."

In Senate confirmation hearings, Snow seems certain to be grilled about his membership in Augusta National. The golf club, which hosts golf's premier tournament, the Masters, is under fire for not admitting women.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush does not consider membership in an all-male club as a reason to exclude somebody from the Cabinet. "I'm not aware that that presents any disqualification," Fleischer said.

Snow, who has a law degree and a Ph.D in economics, has a mixed record as he built CSX into the largest railroad holding company in the Eastern United States.

Like other railroad operators, CSX Corp. has struggled financially in recent years as companies worked to digest past acquisitions and shippers have switched to more efficient competitors, especially trucking firms.