WASHINGTON - Conservative pundit Tony Snow will be named White House press secretary, Republican officials said Tuesday night, in the latest move in President Bush's effort to remake his troubled White House.
Snow is expected to be named on Wednesday.
He will replace Scott McClellan, who is stepping down in a White House personnel shuffle intended to re-energize Bush's presidency, bring in new faces and lift the president's record-low approval ratings. McClellan had served as Bush's chief spokesman - the most prominent public figure in the White House after Bush - for nearly three years.
Snow, a Fox News commentator and speech-writer in the White House under Bush's father, has written and spoken frequently about the current president - not always in a complimentary way. While Snow is an experienced Washington hand, he is an outsider when it comes to Bush's tight core of advisers.
The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, circulated unflattering observations by Snow about Bush.
"His (Bush's) wavering conservatism has become an active concern among Republicans, who wish he would stop cowering under the bed and start fighting back against the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Wilson," Snow wrote last November after Republicans failed to win the governor's race in Virginia. "The newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment."
Last month, Snow wrote that Bush and the Republican Congress had "lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding the public fisc. (treasury)"
Snow, in an Associated Press interview on Tuesday, said: "It's public record. I've written some critical stuff. When you're a columnist, you're going to criticize and you're going to praise."
Unofficially, the White House tried to put the best face on Snow's criticism, suggesting it showed that the administration listens to different voices and noting that Snow's job called for him to be opinionated.
Snow declined to say whether he had been offered the White House job. Republicans close to the White House said the press secretary's job had been offered to Snow and that he had accepted. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of Bush's dislike of news leaks.
One factor in Snow's decision was that he had his colon removed last year and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer. He had a CAT scan last week and delayed a decision while he consulted with his doctors.
Snow is the host of the "Tony Snow Show" on Fox News Radio and "Weekend Live with Tony Snow on the Fox News Channel. He served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush as White House speechwriting director and later as a deputy assistant to the president for media affairs.