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. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    The repugnants need to rid themselves of Boener and his BAD hair!

    November 6, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. SJC

    To Richard,

    You said:

    "I guess Obama can't even pick his own people without a white man helping him."

    What no Nazi meetings today to occupy your time? You have that ten year old mind of yours all revved up from listening to Rush?

    Take your Anti-American rants and move to Alaska and join the AIP. Todd Palin may help you get in.

    I didn't realize mental institutions let inmates have internet access!

    November 6, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. lisa

    People seem to want to criticize Obama for choose veteran politicians but I seem his move as wise. He will set the change agenda and appoint people who know how to get it done to do the job. It's not their agenda they will be carrying out it's Obama's. I have every confident in Obama that he will lead this country wisely making sound decisions. He has proven himself during the course of his campaign to be commonsensical and very intelligent which is a winning combination. I hope he selects some females to head some things. He's got to look ahead to 2012 you know.

    May God Bless President Obama!!!

    November 6, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Jody

    I have always admired this man, Rahm seems to think while he sleeps. What a wonderful choice, and Dave you should think before you write Clinton was wonderful. If he is not dealing with a full deck then maybe you need to recount the cards

    November 6, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. Uh huh

    Progress – so it doesn't concern you that countries all over the world who don' t like us very much are celebrating? It seems your focus is on making history by winning an election but now what???? We have a way far left prez in waiting who is the most inexperienced one in history waiting to take over in the midst of 2 wars and an economy that's going down for the last time and is moving faster now that wall street sees who you chose. As I said a long time ago when the dems didn't nominate Hillary – the dems have cut off their head to save their far left arm. Good Luck.

    November 6, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. brian

    Boehner needs to work on his tan (why is he orange?). Better yet, he needs to work on not having the GOP House get spanked every two years!!!

    November 6, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Jody

    Congreds to Rahm what a wonderful man – Hay Dave it takes a hot head at times to get things done. With this democratic team – I believe that you really need to recount the cards that you say Rahms not playing with. Maybe you need a prozac

    November 6, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Uh huh

    TJ – your laughter will only last as long as your pocket has money, which won't be long under an Obama administration because if you think jobs are hard to come by now, wait until Obama raises taxes on all the businesses and business owners and they simply shut down, lay off folks or leave the country. It's hard to laugh when your kids stomach is growling.

    November 6, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. nevada for obama

    to America loses
    George Bush is still the President till 1/20/09 did your small mind think Obama could change the stock market over night??
    get a life move on

    November 6, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. Gayle

    Rahm welcome to the Obama Administration. People People People stop hating you all know how Washington works. Those of you who are still mad at the People's Selection of the New President you really do need to go somewhere and sit down. If you have nothing nice to say say nothing all.

    November 6, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. COL

    I have resisted name calling, and hated seeing it here - but Richard, you are a complete jerk. Go back to your cave.

    November 6, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. MissMarple

    President-elect Obama showed extreme intelligence in selecting the members of his campaign team. There is no reason to believe that his intelligence will desert him when choosing his administration. These will not be impulsive appointments. I'm sure he has been considering people for many months prior to his win.

    November 6, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. JW

    Hey Paul & Dave

    Re: I voted against him, and will never ACCEPT him as my president!

    Since you are so unhappy why don't you just go home with Sarah or leave the country. I "betcha " no one would notice and there would be two less jerks in the lower 48 and Hawaii.

    November 6, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Uh huh

    JL – would you say the same for Palin – "just give her a chance"? Obama is the most inexperienced prez we will ever have in our history during a time of two wars, and an economy going to hades. If he'd had as much common sense as he does ego, he would've recognized that and not run this time to gain more experience. What he did wasn't good for the country and many, many people know it – he doesn't have time to be given a break – too many of our kids could die or go hungry.

    November 6, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. tk


    November 6, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  16. IowaMom

    America loses November 6th, 2008 4:57 pm ET

    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.


    Um, maybe because he's not IN office yet?

    November 6, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Well, Obama picks a Chicago crony, what about that.
    I suspect we'll see more people from Chicago coming into greater influence in this administration. When a new prez takes over, he brings in his cronys and hometown people. Maybe Obama will be different but the first step looks like the usual pattern.
    It's also troubling that Rahm is such a partisan. I know Obama dropped the line about crossing party lines early in his campaign but is he anticipating playing hardball with the Republicans? Didn't Obama promise to bring people together? Things look shaky.
    Out here in California, the state just voted yes in support of the ban of gay marriages, a proposition Obama said he was against. Apparently all the people who voted for Obama out here also decided to vote against the gays. It makes me think the Obama supporters like to pretend they're open and inclusive but choose not to act that way. And now it's payback time for Joe Lieberman?

    November 6, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. Chicago Politics coming To Washington

    The market does not like Obama. The 8 days leading up to the election we gained more than 1500 points on the dow.

    After we found out who is going to lead this country, the stockmarket is crashing. We have lost almost 1000 points in the last 2 days and tomorrow looks even worse.

    Its discouraging to learn that voters were more interested in making history then the economy of our Country. You can not tax your way out of a recession.

    November 6, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Shelby

    Why is O'Bama trying to mimic Mr. Clinton's Presidency?

    I always had the suspicion that O'Bama just twisted everything HRC was doing and saying and now it appears true. The man doesn't have a CLUE what is going on or what to do.

    Great, just when Russia decides to put nukes right near us....

    November 6, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Chris

    Explain to me the point of allowing comments on articles when 75-80% of everything said is just pure hatred.

    November 6, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. IowaMom

    Before so many of you are spouting off about how he lied about change, can you give the man a chance to actually get in office, you know January 20, before you are so certain no change is coming. And he's not done picking his people yet, he just started. Gees people just must want to be mean because they get off on it.

    November 6, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Ready 4 change in VA

    I believe that Rahm is an EXCELLENT choice to serve as Chief of Staff in the President-elect's administration. For many reasons, but mostly for the fact that there are SO MANY issues that President Obama and congress will have to address, they need someone to help move things along. Can't think of a better person to do the job.

    And for all those doubting our new president's choices . . . remember this. This unqualified man adequately staffed a campaign team that was able to meet the challenge of the "Clintons" in the primaries to win the nomination AND defeat McCain (a war hero and long serving senator). I think his actions and decisions on the campaign trail show that he's capable of picking the right people for the job to be successful.

    November 6, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. jahyarain

    american loser said: Obama's dilemma. How is he going to defend Europe if Russia invades Poland when Obama would prefer our country be just like Russia in its ideology of Socialism. He will probably join forces with Putin.

    or he could do what w did when russia invaded georgia. nothing.

    November 6, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Tariq

    Boehner, you did'nt get the memo...nothing you say matters anymore.

    November 6, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. tundemans

    why are u REPUBSA crying about President Obambi's choice. after all u didnt vote for him or put him in office. he is just being matured and magnanimous to put u in consideration which he would. just look at how he ran a disciplined successful campaign.

    November 6, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9