RNC Chair to Head Bush Re-election Campaign

Republican National Committee (search) chairman Marc Racicot is expected to become chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign, and the leading candidate to replace him is Washington lobbyist and political strategist Ed Gillespie.

Racicot, the former Montana governor who was one of Bush's more forceful advocates during the 2000 Florida recount, could assume the campaign post as early as July when the Republican National Committee meets for its midyear meeting, said several Republican sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A senior White House official said Racicot (searchis one candidate who is being considered for the campaign chairmanship, but no recommendations have been made by the White House staff to Bush.

Commerce Secretary Don Evans (search) had been a candidate for the campaign post, but officials said he would prefer to remain in Bush's Cabinet and informally advise the president from inside the administration.

Officials said Gillespie had discussed the possibility of replacing Racicot with White House officials. Gillespie, a successful lobbyist, also served last year as general strategist for Sen. Elizabeth Dole's successful campaign in North Carolina, and held a key job at the Republican National Convention in 2000.

He is also a former communications director for the RNC. As spokesman for former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, he was instrumental in drafting the Contract With America that House Republicans rode to power in 1994. Gillespie also worked closely with former RNC chairman Haley Barbour (searchas a political consultant and a lobbyist.

Gillespie said that while he discusses political matters with the White House from time to time, "I have not been offered anything, any position, including the RNC job. ... The only offer that's been made is my offer that I'll do anything to help the president get re-elected."