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Inside Politics

Sources: Ridge plans to leave post

Homeland Security spokesman says no decision made

From Suzanne Malveaux

Tom Ridge took office in January 2003 as the first secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
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Tom Ridge
White House
Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge plans to leave his post, according to senior administration sources, although no one will officially confirm his intention to depart.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Tuesday morning that reports of Ridge's departure were "news to him." He added that Ridge had not made any decisions about his future and that there have been no discussions with the White House.

Ridge, in the past, has declined to be specific when answering questions regarding his future as head of the department. In July there were reports Ridge told colleagues he was considering stepping down after the November election because of job stresses and the need to earn money in the private sector to pay his children's college costs.

"After President Bush is re-elected, we'll have to have that conversation," he said at the time.

Ridge was in Hawaii Tuesday at an event to highlight the US-VISIT border-security program.

The reshuffling of Bush's Cabinet for his second term continued this week with four resignations. On Tuesday, Bush nominated national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state. (Full story)

The other resignations announced Monday were Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Last week, the White House announced that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans would be leaving the administration.

Tom Ridge took office in January 2003 as the nation's first secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Assembling employees from 22 departments, the former Pennsylvania governor oversaw the largest reorganization of the federal government since the Department of Defense opened in 1947.

Jeanne Meserve contributed to this report.

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