November 6th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Emanuel can 'get things done,' Obama says

Obama named Rahm Emanuel chief of staff Thursday.

Obama named Rahm Emanuel chief of staff Thursday.

(CNN) - Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a top House Democrat, has agreed to be Barack Obama's chief of staff, Obama announced Thursday.

"No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel," Obama said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Emanuel responded, also in a written statement, "I'm leaving a job I love to join your White House for one simple reason - I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs."

Emanuel, a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, choked up earlier in the day as he said how glad he was his parents are alive to see him have the choice of becoming chief of staff for the first African-American president.

Related: Emanuel expected to bring 'tough minded' approach to White House

Emanuel, 48, was elected to Congress in 2002 after having been a top aide to President Bill Clinton.

He later helped the Democrats wrest majority control of the House from the Republicans in 2006, when he ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Obama and Emanuel are both from Chicago.

The Republican leader in the House criticized the choice of Emanuel - who has a reputation as a tough political infighter - even before it was confirmed.

"This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center," Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a written statement.

The chief of staff oversees and coordinates activities and communication among various departments of an administration.

Obama is also expected to announce his press secretary pick as early as Thursday afternoon, and observers believe it will be Robert Gibbs, the communications director for his presidential campaign.

Gibbs said the report that he has been offered the job is "ahead of itself."

Obama will hold a news conference Friday, his first since winning the election Tuesday, an Obama transition official said.

He may announce key administrative appointments, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing Obama's plans. Obama also is expected to take questions from reporters, the official said.

Also announced Thursday was that Obama and his wife, Michelle, will visit the White House on Monday.

Bush and Obama will meet in the Oval Office, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, while Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama will meet in and tour the private residence.

Obama was considering who will be on his transition team long before Tuesday's election declared him the nation's leader, and several Republicans were on the short list.

Obama is thinking about bringing GOP Sen. Richard Lugar and retiring Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel on board, according to sources close to the president-elect.

Hagel, R-Nebraska, is a Vietnam War veteran and fierce critic of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war.

Lugar, R-Indiana, is minority leader of the Foreign Relations Committee and worked with Obama last year to expand a program aimed at destroying weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union.

Also, the sources say Obama is considering adding Robert Gates - Bush's defense secretary - to his national security team.

It is common for presidential candidates to begin setting up a transition team before they are elected. The 10 weeks between the election and the inauguration are not enough time to assemble a team to lead the country.

CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger said that it's important to take steps quickly to set the right tone, pointing to President Clinton, who waited weeks to fill Cabinet positions and announced many of his top staffers just five days before he was sworn in.

"Everything you do early on in a presidency gets magnified. You don't want to make the same mistakes that Bill Clinton made," she said.

John Podesta, a former chief of staff under Clinton, is among those leading Obama's transition team. Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama's top advisers, and Peter Rouse, Obama's Senate chief of staff, are also involved in the effort.

Filling out his economic team is a top priority for Obama as he begins to implement a strategy to quell the economic crisis.

"This is one of the first times that I can remember that the secretary of the treasury is going to be almost as important as the secretary of state," said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who served in the Reagan and Clinton administrations.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Thursday that he looks forward to a "smooth" transition.

"I congratulate Sen. Obama on the election and look forward to working with his team to ensure that there is a smooth and effective transition. A methodical and orderly transition is in the best interests of the financial markets and Treasury is committed to making sure that the incoming team can hit
the ground running in January," he said in a written statement.

Names circulating for the secretary of the treasury position include Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers and Paul Volcker, among others.

Geithner helped deal with Wall Street's financial meltdown earlier this year, overseeing the acquisition of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase and the bailouts of AIG and Lehman Brothers. He was appointed president of the New York Federal Reserve in November 2003.

Summers was appointed treasury secretary in July 1999 and served as the chief economist of the World Bank from 1991 through 1993. Before his career in government, he taught economics at Harvard.

Volcker is a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, serving under Presidents Carter and Reagan. He also worked in the private sector as an investment banker and headed the investigation into the United Nations' oil-for-food program for Iraq.

The White House is holding an economic summit November 15. Obama could delay naming his economic team to avoid interfering with the G-20 summit.

Obama's national security team is another priority as the country fights wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could also be an area where he goes outside his party for an appointee.

Hagel and Gates are both being considered.

Gates has served in Bush's Cabinet for almost two years. He worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 27 years, serving as its director from 1991 through 1993. He also served as deputy national security adviser under President George H. W. Bush.

"What Barack Obama has to do in the transition time is set the tone," Borger said. "If he reaches out to Republicans in the Cabinet - if he decided to keep Bob Gates at Defense - that's really, really important."

soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. watchdog

    A wolf is still a wolf no matter how you dress him. Obama promised to reach across party lines and bring a change. Choosing one of the most liberal and self-serving democrats that served under Clinton doesn't even begin to fulfill any of his campaign promises. And now, Obama is considering three more Clinton people for his cabinet? So far Obama, you're zero for two. This is going to be a long four years and this watchdog is going to track your every step.

    November 6, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Former Republican in TX ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Rahm Emanuel is someone who has proven he knows how to get things done in the poltical circles. And the Jewish community should take note that he was Obama's first appointee.

    Yes, he was known to have a temper in his younger days. But that was 1996, 12 years ago, so I would like to think he has matured some since then. I doubt that Obama would put up with it very long if he still has a short fuse.

    November 6, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. JL

    Some of you need to get over yourselves and give the man a chance. How would you like to be given a new job where people call you a failure before you even start.

    What happened to "Do unto others" also called the golden rule?

    What ever happened to christianity and the things the bible says about praying for our government?

    Have we really been politically brainwashed to the point where we can't even give someone we disagree with a chance?

    It makes me sad and a little less proud to read these hateful comments about our new president.

    November 6, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Richard

    I keep reading how great the Clinton administration was. Please ask someone who is being forclosed on. his administration opened the flood gates. I am sick of hearing how we all need to back Obama and be nice to hm. Someone should remember how nice the Democrats were to Bush and the Republicians. Funny how that works isn't it.

    November 6, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Welcome Rham... It is time to have someone on staff that is not spineless. Obama is going to need some tough strong spirits around. Obama has made excellent choices so far, I don't know why we stop trusting him now. We could always do like John McForgotten threatened to do and hire "Joe the Plumber." Remember him?

    November 6, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. America loses

    Obama (better know as Messiah by Obamaniac zombies) why haven't you sprinkled the economy with your magic dust to fix our economy. Why are you waiting? It's been almost three days since your were elected, what are you waiting for Magic man. Don't make us choke on your magic dust.

    November 6, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. TJ

    To Rick:
    Our laughter at the DEFEATED Republican party has just begun...

    November 6, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Lorna, NY

    He is a great choice, stop the whining Repubs!

    November 6, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. laura

    larry wi November 6th, 2008 4:42 pm ET

    This is going to be interesting, everyone that NObama will have on his staff will have more experience at everything than he does, what a joke this administration is and will be.


    I love this part ' a joke this administration is and will be. '

    Like The BUSH yrs were serious jajaaaaaaaaa.

    November 6, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. Spencer/Virginia

    He's just the type of guy President Obama needs as Chief of Staff. He's a no nonsense kind of guy which is needed in these dark times. Also he is the type of guy who will not BS the Prez and give him straight forward answers. President Obama will hit the ground running 1/21/09.

    November 6, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Eli WInter

    Obama is making good choices.
    If you want to change the direction of a big ship, you still get an experienced captain. You just give the captain new direction, new coordinates.
    Change does not mean you bring in new incapable people.

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Lee M

    What a nasty punk Boehnor is. It would be good to get rid of snoot faced republicans like him.
    They need to rebuild their party by getting rid of their dead wood and dishonest people. The republicans even elect convicted felons like Ted Stevens.
    Country First?
    haha, yeah just like when McCain chose Palin or fake "suspended" his campaign.

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. stacy

    not bad for a former ballet dancer.

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Griff

    Children Playing with Fire....

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. laurie

    cnn,msnbc,abc,cbs are all bias news. wont watch them wont buy any bias news papers. they failed to tell theamerican people the truth about obama. and all the negative reports on palin needs to stop. she is a real american,unlike the liberal media that wants to destroy the conservative,moral,decent american values that made this country great.

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. Greed is not good

    Rahm is a polished, smart, with financial industry private sector job experience as well.

    I would like see Obama pick at least 2 or 3 Republicans such as Arnold Schwartnegger, Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel to build powerful consensus.

    November 6, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. FreeNLovIt

    For the ELEPHANT Party that CONSCIOUSLY poisoned the well-water for 8 years, please dont complain. Just WATCH and LEARN on how to grow jobs and how to run for THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE...


    November 6, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Red, Red WHINE!!

    The Republican leader in the House criticized the choice of Emanuel — who has a reputation as a tough political infighter — even before it was confirmed.

    That republican leader doesn't sound much like a leader at all. That guy actually sounds like he's speaking partisan drivel and division. Scum bags like him need to be kicked out of Washington once and for all. DIRT BAGS!

    November 6, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Amanda, Austin Texas

    RealityKing November 6th, 2008 4:35 pm ET

    Please get your facts straight. What you are talking about is the lies that the Repubs tried to spread about Rahm Emanuel. What he actually did was volunteer for Israels Defense Force in 1991 during the Gulf War. Please don't be like the rest of the liars (aka Repubs).

    November 6, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Richard

    I guess we now know that Obama and Clinton were discussing at their meeting. Clinton told his to use his people and he would be a good president. I guess Obama can't even pick his own people without a white man helping him.

    November 6, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Ed from Dallas

    TO: Dave, larry wi, RealityKing, melinda in NV,

    I just have two words for you... GET EDUCATED!

    November 6, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Rick

    To TJ:

    You may want to laugh at the 900 point drop in the stock market since your boy got elected. And that's just the beginning.

    November 6, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. dan

    Exactly how is change coming "to" Washington not "from" Washington as promised in the campaign when his chief of staff is a former Clinton aide and his transition team leader is a former Clinton aide. Sure looks like the Dems are just getting the old gang together. All rhetoric to get elected and once the votes are cast it will be business as usual.

    November 6, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Steve

    Save some typing CNN:

    "Another former Clinton (insert) was named as (insert) to..."

    Hope and Change is really just more of the same.

    November 6, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Michael, Houston Texas

    I don't know too much about him, but from what I have researched, he sounds like a solid choice.

    November 6, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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