Obama asks Emanuel to be chief of staff
WASHINGTON ” President-elect Barack Obama chose Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel to be his White House chief of staff, his first selection for the new administration, Democratic officials said Wednesday.
If Emanuel accepts, he would return to the White House where he served as a political and policy adviser to President Clinton.
Several Democrats also said Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was actively seeking appointment as secretary of State in the new administration.
Two campaign officials said the appointment of a chief of staff was not expected for at least a day.
Instead, they said Obama would issue a written statement announcing that his transition team would be headed by John Podesta, who served as chief of staff under Clinton; Pete Rouse, who has been Obama’s chief of staff in the Senate; and Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the president-elect and campaign adviser.
The officials who described the developments did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss events not yet announced.
On the day after Obama’s election, several prominent Democrats described uncertainty about the extent to which lobbyists would be invited to work in the new administration. As a candidate, Obama frequently said lobbyists would not run his White House.
That left unclear whether they would be permitted to serve, and if so, in what posts and under what conditions.
The president-elect had breakfast with his wife and daughters, then left his house for a workout at a nearby gym. Aides said he intended to visit his campaign headquarters later in the day to thank his staff.
Obama has 10 weeks to build a new administration. But his status as an incumbent member of Congress presents issues unseen since 1960, when John F. Kennedy moved from the Senate to the White House.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a post-election session in two weeks, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference Wednesday to reinforce her call for quick action on a bill to stimulate the economy.
That places Obama in uncharted territory ” a president-elect, presumably first among equals among congressional Democrats. Yet his and their ability to enact legislation depends almost entirely until Inauguration Day on President Bush’s willingness to sign it.