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. Matt

    You people whining about this choice show very little understanding of the job a Chief of Staff does.

    November 6, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. S

    It does not matter who he picks he will be criticized every step of the way. Let's be realistic he had to choose someone who has experience in the white house, because there are too many negative things he has to work against to get this country back on track. He has not time for an inexperienced person who would make the transition tougher than it has to be. I sure the GOP thinks he should have chosen Gov. Palin.

    November 6, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Chapman

    John Boehner hasn't learned ANY lessons from the drubbing his party just took. He needs to give Obama a chance to get in there & make a difference before criticizing our new President elect. Rahm Emanuel has proven himself effective. That's why he was chosen.

    November 6, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. David, Silver Spring, MD

    I'm so sorry that this pick displeases Rep. Boehner. Still, it is hard for me to feel too much sympathy for a man who never met a brick he didn't want to throw at a Democrat.

    November 6, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. bruce cortez colo

    Dave Don't be childish. Also, please use spell check before posting. Apposed is spelled opposed.

    November 6, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Nick

    I've heard this guy has a reputation of being a jerk to other politicians. I like this guy.

    November 6, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. Red, Red WHINE!!

    Ever get the feeling that Republicans only whine and cry? Of all the posts, one thing above all is certain, republicans truly are worthless, do nothing crybabies. Spending their day's and nights weeping and pitching a fit rather then doing something productive.

    It only proves our point, republicans are good for nothing, and their kind of demonstrated childishness, as witnessed in these blogs, are the sum of all reasons for our current economic crisis and the view that many other countries have of us. They look at these republicans and can only conclude that america is a bunch of worthless cry babies.

    November 6, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Uh huh

    Emanuel is as partisan and selfish a politician as they come. This ensures no bipartisanship and increases the odds that the congress will be turned over at their next election. Enjoy your two years kids.

    November 6, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Tim

    Great choice President Obama!!!!

    November 6, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. ethan

    every move obama makes is going to be scrutinized; this is not chess, we are not looking for a checkmate. the country is a fluid, ever-changing, and dare i say EVOLVING nation. Thus, we cannot tell nor predict how every choice will pan out. But I thinki Rahm Emanuel is a perfect fist into the gut for those that think Obama would be an enemy of the jewish people in the USA and Israel.

    Those naysayers who say wait and see how horrible things will get; I would say try being a bit more optimistic rather than just burying your head in the sand like a dumb animal.

    Can we move forward as a nation rather than a fragmented bunch of arguing morons? I will stand with any person to better this country. Those that want to argue and butt heads are not of the sane mind that we witnessed of John Mccain in his poignant concession speech; the few who booed him when he asked for unity at the Biltmore can lower your flags and cry for mutiny, I prefer to fight for a better USA. John Mccain is a better man than some want to admit and Obama is no different. Lets give him and his vision of change a chance.

    November 6, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. America loses

    Chicago slimball politics have arrived. This is the bi-partisanship NOT that we don't need as a nation. I expect their first order of business is to ignore the economy and begin campaigning for 2012. God help us all.

    November 6, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Blk1965

    Stop hating people, give the man a chance, watch and learn, hell anybody can do better than that punk G W Bush....

    November 6, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Niky

    Obama never said that he would not use people from washington. He said that he will change the WAY washington works. It's very possible to change washington by hiring people who are qualified – they may or may not be from washington.
    Good choice, president-elect Barack Obama!

    November 6, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Maralars

    To Rick

    The stock market is forward thinking. The increase due to "our boy's" election, as you so charmingly put it, was already factored in once it became apparent 2-3 weeks ago that Obama would be the victor. The market is now reacting to further bad economic news, like the poor retail numbers that don't bode well for Christmas sales. Please make an effort to understand what you are ranting about.

    November 6, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. dave harlow

    I think history is going to look back at Pres Bush with respect. He did tough things when they needed to be done and stood and took all the blame.

    You folks out there that hate Bush so... quit talking about him. You have a new man headed into office... talk about him.

    November 6, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. blair

    you are all lemmings and you are running towards the ledge at obama's
    direction. Wake up before you get to the ledge cause obama is not gonna stop you, he will be to busy breaking bread with Ahmadinejad. he got you to put him in there that is all folks, he does not need you any more.

    November 6, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. Reese

    I see there is no *change* when it comes to most of the O'Bama supporters talking trash and throwing smut remarks into cyber space.

    I thought Democracy was about being tolerant of others views and opinions? It seems that unless you agree with O'Bama supporters you must be a vile, stupid human being.

    November 6, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. jahyarain

    hey, realityking,

    here's the dose uv been looking 4:

    military service is mandatory in Israel.
    read more.

    November 6, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Fred

    How does a person convince the world that President Elect Obama is
    not an African American, and he did not make history. Know one not
    even the black historians should claim this as a victory. President Elect Obama is in fact a half white half black man. No black history was made.He is just another American becoming President. I don't have a problemwith him being President, however I do have a problem with anyone that recognizes him as an African American. We call what he is a Malono, excuse the spelling. I only wish the news media would get thisstraight also. I have seen Elect Obama, state where his roots are fromso I don't really lay the blame on him, this blame is on you the media as well as those Oprah Winfrey's of the United States. Yes it was a proud moment for America, but black is black and he is not. Thank You

    November 6, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. notafan

    Rahm Emanuel is a former board member for Freddie Mac/Fannie
    In 2006, Freddie Mac was forced to pay a $3.8 million fine to the Federal Election Commission to settle allegations it illegally contributed to congressional candidates between 2000 and 2003 – while Emanuel was on the board and running for and serving in Congress. So much for campaign honesty.

    You know, the same companies that started this economical nightmare? So much for "change and hope" and all the other garbage spewed our way.

    Already the media is making excuses for Obama on how he won't really ever be able to keep his promises because the job will be "just too hard" and the finger pointing continues. That sure didn't take long.

    November 6, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Mike

    When I first read the words "tough-minded" as an adjective for Emanuel, I was impressed. The Chief of Staff is a leader among leaders; it sounds like the guy has the perfect approach to this type of job. As an Eagle Scout I know how difficult it can sometimes be to lead when the people directly responsible to you are attempting similar things. The best way is the no-BS way. This guy's an excellent pick. Keep it up Obama! We expect nothing less from you!

    November 6, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  22. mary

    2 words Carl Rove.Nothing could be worse.

    November 6, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. Renee

    Come on folks why would anyone appoint anybody other than a "Get It Done Team" to clean up the mess Bush and Co. left behind. Rahm temperment during the Clinton would be more even tone with age and young children now. Let Obama do his job and hire the people he knows that can help pull us out of this mess.

    November 6, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  24. Judy Mia Fl

    See our pit bull – Palin – he gets the job done.

    November 6, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. Uh huh

    Sounds like the "same old politicians" to me – so much for change. And as for getting things done? Probably not Mr. Obama – your choice is arrogant, selfish and incredibly partisan - kinda like you actually (except he's smarter) but will not be able to get much done with a filibuster still within reach. Let the circus begin!

    November 6, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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