Bush campaign pushes out press spokesman Beckwith

July 14, 1999|By Paul West | Paul West,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- In the first high-level departure of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign, press spokesman David C. Beckwith has been pushed out.

Beckwith left abruptly, after publicity problems that included publication of a magazine article questioning Bush's intelligence.

The article, in the current U.S. News and World Report, runs under the headline "Is it wrong to call him George Dumbya Bush?" and called it "revealing that the Bush campaign does not make any great claims as to Bush's intellect." The article quotes Beckwith as saying: "If someone handles [questions from reporters] with aplomb, the voters care about that more than the precise answers."

In a conversation Monday with a reporter, Beckwith said he was quoted out of context by Roger Simon, the writer of the article. Simon, a former Sun columnist, could not be reached for comment.

A Bush campaign aide said the timing of Beckwith's departure, immediately after publication of that article, was "coincidental."

Beckwith was blamed inside the campaign for hurting credibility after accusations that the campaign had deliberately understated how much money Bush had raised. Other Bush aides said that Beckwith's manner produced clashes with his boss, Karen Hughes, the governor's longtime press secretary and a member of his inner circle.

His departure also highlights a little-known Bush trait: a dislike for underlings who inflate their importance or take credit for the candidate's success. When Beckwith joined the campaign, he irritated insiders by describing himself as the communications director, a title that did not reflect his more limited duties as a media spokesman.

Beckwith, who praised Bush in a statement released last night by the campaign, declined to discuss his departure.

Pub Date: 7/14/99

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