White House Chief of staff: Emanuel out, Rouse in

Friday, October 01, 2010

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel listens as U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions during a news conference in the East Room of the White House September 10, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty)

President Barack Obama is making official what has been clear for days: Rahm Emanuel, the relentless enforcer of his agenda as White House chief of staff, is resigning. The job Emanuel wants now is mayor of Chicago, where his next fierce political fight awaits.

What Emanuel leaves behind is more than a staff job. It is the most demanding and influential position in the White House - save for Obama's. The person who holds it is entrusted to shape the president's thinking, prioritize his time, manage scores of egos and issues and keep the White House focused on its goals.

Stepping into that role will be Pete Rouse, a deeply trusted senior adviser to Obama who has made much of his living as a chief of staff. Obama on Friday is expected to herald Emanuel's service, talk of unfinished business and introduce Rouse as interim White House chief of staff, likely for the rest of the year.

Rouse is considered a leading choice to become the permanent chief of staff. So is Tom Donilon, the deputy national security adviser known as a skilled interagency manager, although he may be a logical replacement for national security adviser James Jones upon his expected departure in the coming months. Another top candidate is Ron Klain, although he might be reluctant to leave his job as Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff.

Obama's choice will come in the context of a personnel reorganization, two years into a grueling presidency, with some key players already planning to leave the White House grind and others likely seeing changes in their portfolio. The results of the Nov. 2 House and Senate midterm elections will also be a factor.

Sources familiar with Emanuel's plans confirmed them to The Associated Press.

Emanuel's departure has been one of the worst-kept secrets in recent Washington history. But that didn't keep the White House from trying. Sort of.

Amid news reports that Rahm was definitely leaving and Rouse was to replace him, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would not confirm that, working to avoid getting ahead of the president. But Gibbs said Obama would be making twin personnel announcements on Friday. And in a bizarre exchange with reporters, he described Emanuel's legacy, Rouse's skills and the choice of the grand East Room for the event. He even winked in giving one of his answers.

The transition is likely to unfold in a fitting way. Emanuel will talk. Rouse will probably not.

The two men could not be more different in their personalities and style. Emanuel, 50, is a fast-moving, disciplined and notoriously profane manager - the once and future politician who served as an Illinois congressman and always had a longing for running for mayor of his hometown Chicago.

Rouse, 64, shuns the spotlight but has quietly built up an enormous wealth of trust and relationships in Washington. Those close to him say that he provides what Obama needs - a sharp and strategic mind, a sense of continuity, a knack for troubleshooting and an ability to keep people focused on their tasks. Rouse served for years as chief of staff to then-Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and is known on Capitol Hill, but he won't be found schmoozing at political dinners.

The mantra in the West Wing is that no one who works for the president is irreplaceable. And yet that's how they describe Emanuel, a whirling force of ideas and energy with expertise in foreign policy, political campaigns, communications and the legislative process. Obama's aides talk of an unquestioned loss.

The plan within the White House is that some of Emanuel's responsibilities will be shared among other senior officials, not just Rouse. White House officials also say it is a strength that Rouse will bring his own style to his job and that every White House expects change and needs it.

Over the last three decades, White House chiefs of staff have typically served for two to three years.

Obama, after winning a seat to the Senate, recruited Rouse to be his chief of staff there and ultimately made him a top adviser in the White House.

In describing his departure on Friday, Emanuel is expected to offer a glancing reference at most to his run for mayor, not wanting to announce from Washington. His official word on that will come later; he is expected to launch a website with a message to Chicago voters soon.

The move pits Emanuel against a growing field of local politicians vying for the job that will be vacated next spring by Mayor Richard M. Daley, who announced in early September that he will not seek a seventh term. Emanuel's victory in the race is no given, with rivals certain to attack the longtime political operative and former congressman as a brusque outsider who belongs more to Pennsylvania Avenue than Michigan Avenue.


Associated Press writer Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.


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Comments [12]

gary from queens

Dear John From Bronx,

You took away the wrong lesson from Condi's statement. Recall that Bush was a lame human pinatta on the accusation that he was the reason the world hated the US. not to mention why terrorists are angry with us too. Of course today, we see now how absurd that was, with Obama's admission of US guilt being greeted with scorn, disrespect, and greater demands.

But anyway, what happens? The white house liberal Condi sees an upturn in support for the US in malaysia thanks the the rescue missions of our aircraft carriers and food and medical aid. And she utters a stupid remark to placate the Bush critics, and dispell the notion that we are hated. Stupid because it was naive with respect to Bush and America haters.

And as for the article you cited. it doesn't factor in the cost of deploying aircraft carriers en mass to the disaster area. Last time i checked, Americans paid for that. And it isnt cheap.

Oct. 01 2010 02:31 PM
John from The Bronx

WANTED: Someone who can see opportunity in crisis.
- - - - - - - -

I have a candidate from the Republican party who fits the description.

Rahm Emanuel has been criticized for not wanting "a serious crisis to go to waste??!?"

I remember a Republican who said something similar about the "wonderful opportunity" presented by a tsunami that could pay "great dividends” to our proud nation.

Somewhat selfish to see personal gains in other people's suffering, no? Sort of goes against values we claim to hold in highest regard.

"...Condoleezza Rice sparked a small controversy by describing the tsunami as "a wonderful opportunity" that 'has paid great dividends for us.'"


"The nominee Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in a crass remark that the tsunami had “paid great dividends” for the US since it “was a wonderful opportunity to show not just the US government, but the heart of the American people” (an assertion unfortunately not supported by the numbers, as shown above,)..."

Oct. 01 2010 12:20 PM
gary from queens

it was naomi wolf or naomi klein (one or the other) who had made all the book-touring rounds in the mainstream LIBERAL media promoting the contention that Bush was ushering in draconian, totalitarian, anti constitutional national security measures based on the idea that we are in an emergency. She said that it is a mistake for any society to legislate such drastic measures during (purpordedly) temporary conditions.

BUT NOW IT's OK! Because now we are dealing with supposed emergencies (according to liberals) that will enable them to push a LIBERAL legislative agenda. But hey, as Brian said guest said, "it's what we need." What do you mean we kimosabi?!

Brian, the fuller quote you played of Rahlm did not provide greater context. It provided greater spin.

Oct. 01 2010 10:34 AM
Jack Jackson from Central NJ

Ad for next Chief of Staff

Armtwister needed to make deals with party out of power who have absolutely no upside in compromising with the party in power.

Oct. 01 2010 10:27 AM
Dan from Brooklyn

Wanted: Last Progressive with Hope.

Oct. 01 2010 10:25 AM
steve mark


Someone who can leap Republicans and partisanship ijn a single bound.

Oct. 01 2010 10:21 AM
Jeremy from Harlem from Harlem

I seem to recall when Emanuel was named Chief of Staff in '09 that the talk was of the advantages he brought to the position was his intimate connections to the House, having been a member. Legislative victories, eg Health Care, Stimulus, have been largely attributed to this connection. But the tenor of the times now seems to be the largely ineffective Congress (whether true or not), in part due to a small cadre of Democrats who refuse to vote along the party line (as well as the larger issue of the so-called "party of no."). This could be seen as a larger failing of Emanuel's brash style and inability to convince. Perhaps a softer, more rational(?) approach is necessitated, one who doesn't come across as adversarial? Though a point can be made that Obama's administration should have stood up even more strongly to the Republicans than perceived.

Oct. 01 2010 10:18 AM

Wanted: Goldman Sachs alumni. Must be willing to apply band aids to a hemorrhage. Shovel and stick provided.

Oct. 01 2010 10:18 AM
JP from New Jersey

Wanted: Trusted advisor. Must photograph well, smile often, kiss babies. Must speak well but say very little. Must want to help the middle class by passing legislation that is, inexplicably, unpopular with the very people it is meant to help.

Good sense of humor.

Willingness to relocate.

Oct. 01 2010 10:17 AM

Wanted: Chief of Staff ready to tackle creating new jobs by developing a strong alternative energy sector.

Oct. 01 2010 10:16 AM
Gary from Upper Left Side

WANTED: No Rats Leaving the U.S.S. Obama Before It Sinks

Oct. 01 2010 10:13 AM
antonio from park slope

This is my ad; "Howard Dean we need you!"

Oct. 01 2010 10:12 AM

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