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Sat, May 27, 2006 - Page 10 News List

John Snow might step down soon, Republicans say


US Treasury Secretary John Snow has signaled his readiness to step down, possibly by the end of next month, or as soon as the White House has a candidate to succeed him, according to Republicans with ties to the administration.

Snow, a congenial former railroad executive who took over the Treasury Department three years ago, has made it clear he did not expect to stay in the job beyond the midterm elections in November.

US President George W. Bush said on Thursday at a news conference that he had not spoken to Snow about his plans.

Tony Fratto, the US Treasury Department's chief spokesman, refused to comment, saying, "We don't comment or speculate on personnel issues."

But one Republican said Snow was prepared to leave soon after the G8 meetings on June 8 and 9 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

It was not clear whom Bush might nominate as a successor. Speculation includes David Mulford, a treasury official under former US presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush who is currently the US ambassador to India; Donald Evans, who was secretary of commerce in the current president's first term; Carlos Gutierrez, the current commerce secretary; and Allan Hubbard, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Competition for Snow's job had already heated up within the administration. Robert Zoellick, currently the deputy secretary of state and previously the US trade representative, is believed to have wanted the top treasury post, but was ruled out. He is now expected to step down and has been said to be talking to firms on Wall Street.

Administration officials have also been reported to have contacted Wall Street executives like Henry Paulsen, the chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Speculation about Snow's departure has been almost constant since Bush's re-election in 2004. But the speculation, including some fueled by White House officials, repeatedly turned out to be wrong.

Snow remained outwardly impervious to all the speculation, including published reports in which anonymous White House officials were quoted as predicting his ouster.

But even before Bush's re-election, officials suggested they wanted to shake up his economic team to better pursue an ambitious agenda -- now stalled -- of overhauling both Social Security and the tax code.

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