For the last eight years, Karen Hughes advised George Bush with communications and political counsel. In mid-July,she began working for the White House from her home in Austin, Texas instead of her office in the West Wing.
In April, Hughes made the decision to leave Washington and move back to Texas with her family and continue creating the president's speeches and drafting policy and communications strategies. "The president has been wonderful in offering me the flexibility to do what's right for my family and have a career," Hughes said. My colleagues respect my decision and understand that I will continue to be involved."
For several months the White House realigned key staff and prepared for Hughes' "departure". "I know that Mary Matalin, Dan Bartlett and Ari Fleisher and all the people on this team can serve the president well." Hughes added. "And that was one of the reasons I felt so comfortable leaving."
Hughes will be working from Austin on a full-time basis, but plans to commute to Washington twice a month. She also plans to visit the president at his Crawford, Texas ranch and travel with him aboard Air Force One on occasion. "I may lose a little in proximity as I won't be able to walk into the Oval Office as regularly, but I'll gain the perspective of what's important in America, what people are talking, and what kind of messages are getting through from Washington." Hughes said "There are so many issues and so many networks and I think I'll have a pretty good sense of which messages are getting out to people."
While this new work arrangement meant some adjustment for her and the rest of the White House staff, they have had considerable experience with using technology to work remotely. "We're very communications savvy," Hughes said. There were many times when we worked on statements for the president while we were all scattered everywhere, and I think we can make this work.
We have a great
team of people," Hughes added. "and while I won't be in Washington
I will always be available to them. And that team will continue."