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Former White House Chief of Staff to President Bush Visits Lasell

October 21, 2010

Andrew Card, former White House Chief of Staff, recently addressed the Lasell College community, providing an inside look at some of the most significant days of President George W. Bush's presidency.

Card's talk, "The Office of the Presidency," focused on his early political career as well as his five-year tenure as one of President George W. Bush's top aides.

Card vividly recalled his memories of the morning of September 11th, 2001.  Card, often recognized as the first person to share the news of the terrorist attacks with the President, shared the thoughts and the significant moments of that morning. Card recalled the words he whispered to the President as he sat in front of a room full of second graders at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Fla.

"A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack," he said.

Recently, when asked what was going through his mind on that morning, Card responded, "I thought it was Osama Bin Laden. I thought it was a terrorist attack. But I knew I had to stay cool, calm and collected. Organized."

Card told the Lasell community that his proudest day as Chief of Staff was September 14th, 2001. Three days removed from the attacks of September 11, Card, President Bush and then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani visited the site of the World Trade Center via helicopter. On that day, Bush convened the War Council, rallied rescue workers, encouraged a nation and embraced the families of victims, Card said.

"On that day, he did everything he could as President of the United States," he added.

Card also described his political journey in Washington, from his relationship with former Chief of Staff Jim Baker, while serving under President Ronald Reagan, to comparisons of President George H. W. Bush (like a father) and President George W. Bush (like a brother.) The biggest difference between the father and son was that George H. W. Bush served American politics ‘externally' prior to the presidency while George W. Bush served ‘internally' [as a governor]," Card said.

The Holbrook, Mass. native began his political career in state politics in Massachusetts as a state representative, and then ran unsuccessfully for Governor. Afterwards, he transitioned to Washington where he served under three Republican presidents. His first federal government job came as Special Assistant of Intergovernmental Affairs, basically serving as a liaison between the President Reagan and state governors. Card later served President George H. W. Bush as Assistant to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff and later, Secretary of Transportation. In 2000, President George W. Bush chose Card to run the Republican National Convention and eventually asked him to serve as Chief of Staff.

Card credits his family with his introduction to politics. His grandmother, a suffragette, fought for women's voting rights and was the first woman to serve on Holbrook's School Committee; she set the foundation for Card's interest in politics.

"Politics was never a dirty word with my family. It was there. We grew up not thinking it was one or the other. [It was] get involved."