President Clinton, taking steps to bring new focus to his staff, Thursday appointed a longtime aide to Vice President Al Gore to a new post to handle day-to-day White House operations.
Roy Neel, 47, will leave his position as Gore’s top assistant to become a deputy to Thomas (Mack) McLarty, White House chief of staff. Neel’s arrival will free up McLarty’s other deputy, Mark D. Gearan, to concentrate on long-range planning.
Clinton chose the Tennessee native, who had been with Gore in the Senate for nearly 15 years, two days after acknowledging that the White House needed “a little better focus.” Clinton advisers have said that McLarty has been overburdened trying to run White House operations and its dealings with Congress.
The change comes after a month in which the White House suffered the unexpected legislative defeat of Clinton’s economic stimulus package and a highly visible gaffe involving Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), and as it struggles to keep the Administration’s long-range economic plan on track and to address dissatisfaction among liberal House Democrats over Administration plans to cut the budget.
Clinton said this week he needed to have “a little tighter coordination here to make sure that we’ve got our priorities straight and that those priorities are communicated all the way down to the staff. . . . “