WASHINGTON – President Bush named a new press secretary Friday, replacing the high-profile showman Tony Snow with his quieter, stickler-for-detail deputy, Dana Perino.
Snow, 52, battling cancer, said he was stepping down because he needed to earn more than his $168,000 White House salary – an amount far less than he made as host of the “Tony Snow Show” on Fox News Radio and “Weekend Live with Tony Snow” on the Fox News Channel. “I ran out of money,” said Snow, the father of three.
Perino, 35, will be the second woman to be White House press secretary when she takes over Sept. 14. The first was Dee Dee Myers in the Clinton administration. With a reputation for being thorough and getting back to reporters with questions, Perino temporarily became the public face of the White House when Snow was out of work for five weeks after a recurrence of cancer in March.
“He leaves very big shoes to fill, and I only wear a size six,” said Perino, who is “almost 5-feet-1.”
Snow was named press secretary April 26, 2006, and White House officials were delighted with his striking popularity around the country, relentlessly good-natured and bright tone, and snappy repartee with the media during televised briefings. He often played to the cameras, waving his arms and making faces at questions he didn’t like.
His briefings were known – even among White House officials – as the “Tony Snow Show.”
While Snow had blistered Bush with criticism at times as a pundit and talk show host, he was relentlessly loyal as his press secretary. “It’s been a joy to watch him spar with you,” Bush told the White House press corps in the briefing room. “He’s smart, he’s capable, he’s witty.”
Snow’s quick-from-the-lip answers sometimes got him in trouble. “I used a dumb line,” he acknowledged after justifying a monthlong recess for Iraqi lawmakers because “it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August.” He backtracked after it was pointed out that U.S. troops didn’t get a break from the summer heat.
Snow said cancer was not a factor in his departure.