WASHINGTON -- James A. Baker III's resignation as secretary of state will shift to the White House the first-string team of department policy-makers that for three years has guided his accomplishments and protected his image.
If President Bush wins re-election, it will be in some measure because this tightly knit, relatively young team is determined that Mr. Baker not end his government career with a failure.
Besides fierce loyalty to Mr. Baker, the team shares driven work habits and the creative capacity to make politicians think big:
* Margaret D. Tutwiler: First among equals, she has been Mr. Baker's top adviser, spokeswoman and enforcer for 12 years, in the process becoming a senior manager of the White House, Treasury and State departments and two political campaigns. A born politician, she has an instinctive feel for public reaction and how to exploit an opponent's weak spots. With no background in foreign policy, the 41-year-old Alabama native mastered its nuances to the point where she could stage the Middle East peace conference in Madrid, Spain.
* Robert B. Zoellick: A wide-ranging policy-maker, he has provided much of the intellectual underpinnings for U.S. policy toward post-Cold War Europe and aid to the former Soviet Union, the Far East and the global environment.
His impatience with policies that he doesn't think make sense can cause political problems.
* Dennis B. Ross: A longtime foreign-policy professional, he has been chief architect of the U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace process and the dramatically changed security relationship with Russia. He draws wide power from his influence, but shrinks from the bureaucratic infighting sometimes required to make needed policy shifts, as with pre-gulf crisis Iraq and, more recently, Yugoslavia.
* Janet G. Mullins: A former congressional aide and street-smart political operative, she has mapped strategy for key foreign-policy battles on Capitol Hill. While maintaining largely smooth relations between Mr. Baker and congressional leaders, she played a key behind-the-scenes role in the bare-knuckle fight over loan-guarantees that caused a major setback for the pro-Israel lobby.