McCurry To Leave Clinton Administration
Lockhart will step in as White House press secretary
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 23) -- White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry will leave his post this fall after 3 1/2 years of banter and spin with the press corps.
President Bill Clinton, who announced McCurry's departure Thursday, said he has named Joe Lockhart, McCurry's deputy, to replace him. Clinton said he regretted McCurry's decision.
"Few could match his intelligence and wit from the podium,"
McCurry, who generally has been popular with White House reporters, said he wants to change careers after 22 years as a Washington press secretary. He also has served as a State Department spokesman and worked for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y) and Sen. Bob Kerrey's unsuccessful 1992 presidential campaign.
"I am going to have a good time with my family," McCurry said. "You know, people always say how they're leaving to spend more
time with their families, and I will. But I think my family has
held up pretty well and probably would have been just as happy to
have me stay here, if I had wanted to. They were very supportive."
McCurry said he hopes to accept some speaking invitations, do consulting work and also would like to teach.
He denied he decided to leave the administration because the stress of responding to constant questions about the Monica Lewinsky investigation. McCurry said he wrote a resignation letter to Clinton May 29, telling him he was ready to change careers.
"I assure you it had nothing to do with anything else," McCurry said.
He said he decided to make his decision public now to "preempt any leaks that would otherwise appear," but would remain on the job until Congress adjourns this year.
"I didn't want to hem and haw any more," McCurry said.
McCurry said he and Lockhart will make the transition this summer, and he expects that Lockhart will enjoy the open-door access that he has had with Clinton.
Lockhart, who was press secretary for Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, told reporters he is intimidated by the task ahead.
"It's like the poor fool who is going to have step in for [basketball star]
Michael Jordan next year," Lockhart said. "It's quite a challenge
and Mike has done an amazing job, shown me how to do it and
hopefully, I can get somewhere near the standard he set."
McCurry has been known for his ready wit, although sometimes he has been criticized for trying to use humor to sidestep tough questions.