Obama formally announces Emanuel as chief of staff

November 7th, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 7 (IANS) US president-elect Barack Obama has made his first key administration appointment by naming US Representative Rahm Emanuel, a tough veteran of Bill Clinton’s White House, as his chief of staff.”I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda,” Obama said Thursday. “And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel.”

In the job, Emanuel would oversee the White House staff. The chief of staff is usually involved in all the major decisions that the president makes and is responsible for making sure the administration carries out the president’s wishes.

Of his decision, Emanuel said: “I’m leaving a job I love to join your White House for one simple reason - like the record amount of voters who cast their ballot over the last month, I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs.”

Emanuel oversaw fundraising during the presidential campaign of Clinton and held several positions in the White House, first as political director, then manager of special legislative efforts, and finally as senior adviser.

One former Clinton Administration official compared Emanuel to a defensive end in football. “Very smart, super quick and agile, but getting hit by him, particularly when you were blindsided, felt like being run over by a truck,” said the source.

Over those 15 years as a staffer, Emanuel earned a take-no-prisoners reputation and a nickname - “Rahmbo” - to go with it. At times he was blunt to a fault, and alienated some of his administration colleagues.

Obama, who stands to inherit the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, will meet his economic team on Friday and hold his first news conference where he is expected to indicate how he plans to tackle the economic crisis.

Obama received a top-secret intelligence briefing Thursday. As president-elect he will be receiving president-level daily intelligence briefings. There were as yet no indications of when Obama might announce his picks for key economic jobs, including treasury secretary.

But names doing the rounds included Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers; former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker and Laura Tyson, who chaired Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Summers, Volcker and Tyson were on the 17-member transition economic advisory board that will meet with Obama Friday, a statement from the transition office said.

Others who will take part in the meeting include Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett and Roger Ferguson, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve board of governors.

CNN quoted a source with the Obama transition team that a plan to name David Axelrod a senior adviser to the incoming president is “in the works”.

Axelrod was the Obama presidential campaign’s chief strategist, and a top adviser to Obama during his run for the Senate in 2004.

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