Card on Motivations to Lead A&M's Bush School

Bush School of Government and Public Service
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Talk to Andrew Card about why he's now the acting dean at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, and you get the impression that there was a polite order from a Bush...Barbara Bush.

"I've had presidents ask, and I've challenged, but when the First Lady tells you something, you generally do it," Card said Wednesday, his second day on the job in Aggieland.

Card is filling in while Ryan Crocker serves a stint as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

"I do think the need is real to make sure that the school doesn't lose the momentum Ambassador Crocker gave as dean, and I'm looking forward to the academic year starting and thrilled to be on-board officially. "

Card has gotten quite a few phone calls from presidents asking him to serve. Three have asked him to come to the White House and help them. He was the transportation secretary under George H.W. Bush, and the Chief of Staff for George W. Bush for more than five years. Now, he holds an office at A&M once occupied by Robert Gates and set to be re-held by Crocker.

"Come back, Ambassador Crocker after you finish your work on behalf of the country," Card pleads to the camera. "A&M needs you and the Bush School will need you starting in 2013, September 1st."

It was not a long process that brought Card here. It wasn't long ago that he heard rumblings that his name was up for discussion, but it wasn't until a couple months back that a more formal request -- and demand of sorts -- came in.

"I went up to Maine and met with them in Kennebunkport, and we had about a two-hour session over a long lunch," Card explained. "President Bush asked me to do this and Barbara Bush pretty much told me to do it, that it was important to her husband and that it would be good for the school and good for all things Bush.

"I really do believe in what the Bush School does in terms of how it combines the theoretical understand of how government should work and the realities of practicing the real hard work of public service and government service."

Whether Card stays beyond his fill-in role is a whole different matter. He and his childhood sweetheart wife are Massachusetts natives. Kathleene Card is an ordained minister, herself on leave from that job so her husband can work in Aggieland. While she house-hunted, he relayed that the longest institution he's ever been a part of is the institution of marriage, so looking too far into the future isn't something he does.

The present is an institution of which he's a big fan.

"It probably has more espirit de corps than any state university in the country," Card said. "It's a school that trains people to meet the real-life needs of Texas, and the real-life needs of Texas actually reflect the real-life needs of America today. I think this is a complete university of which the Bush School is an important part, and the Bush School is among the youngest schools in the university system here, and it's already starting to build a great legacy of support from around the country because people see the product that comes from Texas A&M and the Bush School."

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