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It's Official: Rahm Emanuel Departs White House; Peter Rouse Is Interim Chief of Staff

3 years ago
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In a warm, emotional address in the East Room of the White House on Friday, President Obama announced the departure of his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who is relocating to Chicago in advance of a presumed bid to run for mayor. In his place, the president named senior adviser Pete Rouse, who will act as interim chief of staff until a permanent replacement is found -- though the administration is not ruling out the possibility that Rouse could be that person.

Emanuel's departure had been discussed in Washington circles for weeks now, following the announcement that longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley would not seek re-election. The president himself called it the "least suspenseful announcement of all time."

Rahm EmanuelObama characterized Emanuel's departure "bittersweet" and was full of praise for his outgoing chief of staff, saying he was an "incomparable leader . . . who we will miss very much," a man with "an unmatched level of energy, enthusiasm and commitment."

Following the president's remarks, Emanuel thanked the president for his "friendship" and the "opportunity to serve" his country. Emanuel's voice softened and he became somewhat choked up as he discussed the legacy of the American dream, and his own family's pursuit of it. He praised Obama for having "guts" in making "tough decisions" to save the country from economic freefall.

From the pomp and circumstance accorded his departure, it is clear that the president considers the loss of Emanuel significant. (Other senior staff members, including outgoing Budget Director Peter Orzsag, and senior economic advisers Christina Rohmer and Larry Summers, were not accorded presidential remarks when they announced their departure).

The president commented on the closeness of their relationship, saying, "For two years I have begun my workday with Rahm. And for two years, I have ended my day with Rahm."

But the president made clear his confidence in Emanuel's replacement. "There's a saying we have around the White House," said the president. " 'Let's let Pete fix it.' " He went on to say that Rouse is a "skillful problem solver -- and the good news is that we have plenty of problems to solve."

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs pointed out the unique relationship that Obama shares with Rouse, saying: "There's a complete loyalty and trust with somebody like Pete. Pete's strategic sense has played a big part of the direction of virtually every big decision that's made inside of this White House."

Rouse, a soft-spoken mediator, will stand in sharp contrast to Emanuel, who was known for his aggressive, hands-on management style. A force of nature inside the West Wing who stood out for his controversial outbursts and a brash take-no-prisoners attitude, Emanuel was also praised for muscling through significant legislative accomplishments, including the health care reform bill and the federal government's stimulus plan.

According to the Washington Post, Rouse is a 64-year-old unmarried cat lover who lives in Northwest Washington and is known for being a "fixer" -- a behind-the-scenes manager who prefers mediation over confrontation. President Obama has described Rouse as "ego-free." With his extensive experience in the Senate, where he served as an aide to Majority Leader Tom Daschle for nearly 20 years, Rouse is known affectionately as the "101st senator."

This year's midterm elections are likely to bring a change in the partisan power dynamic in Washington -- Rouse will presumably have his hands full as the White House charts its navigation through these new waters.

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6 Comments

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Knee-Coal

Layne, You have to LIVE in the City of Chicago for one full year. Not just own a house here, it has to be your full-time residence for a YEAR. The cut off is Feb. He can't even move back in yet because the person renting it, is trying to hold him to his full rental contract!

October 02 2010 at 3:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bessbkrsfld

now if we can just get obama to leave we will be making progress

October 01 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Cynthia Hauer

Good to see him go - he was particular slimy, and I'm sure he'll be missed as the leader of the choir and the head spinmeister-in-charge. It's pleasant to think that he goes on ahead to prepare Chicago for the return of the rest of 'em.

October 01 2010 at 3:23 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
Fair

What a period we live in. The USA is indeed a colony of Israel. Why do I say this? Well, how else can you imagine a person who has dual citizenship be so close to the leader of this country? Unless he is like Rahm Emanuel, a citizen of Israel and the USA. As if that isn't scary enough, I read somewhere that he served in the Israeli as well. As for the rest, I leave it to your imaginations. And people expect the USA to be an honest broker of peace in the Middle East?

October 01 2010 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Fair's comment
Clue

Like Henry Kissinger??? Come on, its done all the time, by both parties. :o)

October 01 2010 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Clue

Layne, thanx. Not that I'm a fan of Rahm Emanuel, but I see nothing wrong if it's legal. :o)

October 01 2010 at 8:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Amy Dan Lou

Whether he's liked or not his political ties will serve him well as mayor in Chicago. Wise, calculated moves and if Chicagoans want change then Emmanual will make his voice heard for them. If that mantra stands, then Pete cna help set a course in the right direction for all regardless of party affiliation... that's if he does his job right. I think that with that mantra in place he can gets things done.

October 01 2010 at 2:31 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
Judy

Chicago doesn't want Rahm as mayor... They want to clean up the city.

October 01 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply
Jan

I am pretty much gleaning that no one likes Rahm. I wonder why?

October 01 2010 at 12:24 PM Report abuse +25 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jan's comment
Clue

I'd would love to play poker with Rahm Emanuel. He has NO POKER FACE whatsoever! LOL!!! I think that was a problem. :o)

October 01 2010 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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