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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 04:11 GMT 05:11 UK
Who runs the Bush White House?
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell
Bush has surrounded himself with powerful figures
By Jonny Dymond in Washington

On a bitterly cold day in January, George W Bush took his place in what he called a long story.

Not everyone was celebrating as thousands of protesters took to the streets.

Protests at Mr Bush's inauguration
Mr Bush came to office under protest as some disputed the election
Mr Bush did not get a majority of the popular vote. He has trod carefully establishing himself. But he is proving a different kind of president from those who have come before.

"He was a cheerleader in high school, and I think he is a very effective cheerleader for the administration," said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University.

"That does not mean that he's not involved or not signing off on the major decisions. I am sure that he is."

President Bush views his role as that of a Washington outsider with the American people rather than a wonkish Washington insider.

"He has always been interested in people more than politics," Mr Wayne said.

Influential advisors

Within the White House, George Bush's political advisers hold real power; the undisputed chief is his former campaign manager and strategist Karl Rove.

Karl Rove
Political consultant Karl Rove has a position of influence unmatched in previous administrations
Nicknamed "the boy genius" by Bush, he's also been called President Rove.

"Karl Rove is described by some people as George Bush's brain, and given that the president is sometimes said not to have the largest intellect, Karl Rove becomes even more important," said James Carney, White House correspondent for Time magazine.

"Karl Rove is probably the most influential and important political consultant to a president that we've ever seen," he added.

Bush has surrounded himself with men and women with long government experience; in the most powerful positions, many served his father.

  • Vice-President Cheney was defence secretary in the early 1990s. He is perhaps the most powerful vice-president ever to serve.
  • Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has held the post before. He is reviewing the role of the US military. He served before with Dick Cheney and is a close ally of the vice-president.
  • Secretary of State Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and served as Ronald Reagan's national security adviser; he is said to have fundamental policy differences with the other two.

Together, these three men have decades of foreign policy experience. George Bush has virtually none.

Team players?

"The real question for the administration will be down the road when people disagree, and disagree very strongly on they issue," said James Lindsay of the Brookings Institution.

"Are they going to be able to keep the disputes in house, or are people going to want to go out and hang out dirty laundry?" he asked, adding: "We don't know that yet."

There is much talk in Washington as to who really runs this administration: Political advisers or senior cabinet members?

The truth is more complex. These are very early days in a four-year term. The true test for President Bush will be whether he will be able to pull his powerful team together in more difficult times.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"He has proved a different sort of president than those who have gone before"
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