WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who sought to reassure Americans amid frightening warnings about possible terror plots, has told colleagues he probably will resign after the election because of his personal finances and stress of his job, officials said.
During a meeting Friday in Miami, Ridge called the news “an inside-the-Beltway game” and said he wouldn’t comment about it.
“The president gave me a great job,” Ridge said. “I’m doing the job, and after President Bush is re-elected, we’ll have to have that conversation. But I’ve got a job to do, and I plan on doing it.”
Several senior Homeland Security officials said Ridge has indicated in recent weeks he probably will resign after the election, even if Bush wins. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the delicate nature of describing private conversations with their boss.
Assistant Homeland Secretary Susan Neely said Ridge will not make a final decision until he talks with President Bush late this year. He now is focused on thwarting terror attacks that officials fear al-Qaida will try before November.
Ridge, 58, has explained to colleagues that he needs to earn money to comfortably put his two children, Tommy Jr. and Lesley, through college, officials said. Both are teenagers. Ridge earns $175,700 a year as a Cabinet secretary.
The former Pennsylvania governor, who agreed to serve as the department’s inaugural secretary, also has expressed frustration to colleagues about the continuing problems inherent in reorganizing the 22 disparate agencies that formed the Homeland Security Department, officials said.