November 6th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
5 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. AZ Lauren

    It is just two days after the election and there are a bunch of you naysaying already??!?!?!?! Give the man a chance, give his administration a chance. Stop whining and crying. Who did you think he was going to appoint? Karl Rove just to appease you? John McCain just to make you happy? He is going to pick people that he knows he can trust and people that will get things done. Why don't you look at the fact that at least two prominent Republicans are on the short list for his cabinet. Why don't you wait until he has appointed everybody before you start finger pointing. Why don't you wait until he gets into office before you spew your hate. Take a break.

    November 6, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. Somebody Save Us

    Maralars – Your DEAD WRONG.

    The market was on fire the week before we found out who was going to be our President despite the dismal economic numbers coming out on a daily basis.
    We gained 1500 on the dow up until election day, and we have lost 1000 on the dow since Obama has been elected President.

    Deal with your choice. You voted for a man who thinks you can tax your way out of a recession. Raise the capital gain tax, dividend tax, taxes on businesses.

    November 6, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Carrie

    Emanuel will help President (has a nice ring to it?) Obama govern from the center and to resist a Democractic Congress from tugging the new President too far too the left. President Barack Obama is too smart to know what happened in 1994 when after Clinton took office (after moving too the center to win the election), he put forth an agenda that was too far to the left giving rise to Newt Gingrich and the Conservatives. I think it is an excellent choice made by the President!

    November 6, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. FREEMAN

    Maybe he should have chosen Joe Lieberman as his Chief of Staff?Please!!!

    November 6, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Beth

    Geez, you people DO realize that until January 20th...President-Elect Obama isn't the President, right? He's putting together his team, planning his transition to power, laying down the groundwork. But for now...Bush is still the President.

    So...before you people start flinging mud and blaming Obama for whatever it is you feel you need to gripe about...chill out!

    omg...give this man a chance. We didn't get into the mess we're in overnight and we sure aren't going to get out of it overnight.

    Patience is a virtue...and so is keeping your mouth shut. :-)

    November 6, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. Tariq

    Is this where people who lose elections come to vent? I guess they're all done with the denial stage and into anger now

    November 6, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  7. Mr P

    Time for bi-partisan efforts? Time for war slime balls.

    Lock and load. Your liberal agenda will be DOA.

    November 6, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  8. Dan

    Nazi please stop blogging and move out of this country! All Sean Hannity could talk about when Bush was getting bashed was that "we need to support our president, regardless of the situation" Now it's different, after 48 hours some of you are blaming Obama on the stock market falling, in spite of the fact that every single economist is saying that the last few weeks gains were "not the bottom". FFS please read up before you open your mouths.

    November 6, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  9. kelly WI

    I thought Obama said he knew how to fix everything. Now, he doesn' know anything and has to hire people that can tell him what to do.
    Rahm won't find the white house trashed when he goes back like he left it the first time.
    I wonde what deal OB made with Hilary. What did he promise her? Well, I guess he has broken all his other promises so wouldn't hold my breath.
    The liberal press who fawned over OB, will turn on him in a few months.
    A lot of American people are in for a rude awakening when reality sets in. HOpe doesn't pay the bills.

    November 6, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  10. Madmoe

    bi-partisan

    November 6, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. david,baltimore,mamryland

    Republicans are living in la-la land.They have no idea what bipartisanship means.It doesnt mean that Obama will give any credence to their political agenda whic has been roundly rejected by the american public.It means working with them to implemnet his proposals but not compromising on the goals.
    Boehner is a fool;any attempt at republican obstructionism for the mere sake of opposing what the american public wants will be taken out on the republican party.Right now they are viewed by most as a collection of evangelical freaks and bigoted red necks.They are in shock that most americans do not share their values
    Obama's appointment of Emanuel sends the clearest message possible to the republicans.You can work with me or you can work aginst me but either way I am im plementing what I promised the american people and if you are aginst me in a non constructive way you will pay a political price.

    November 6, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  12. Liz, AZ

    Come on, folks. Can we let Obama get his shoes on before he hits the ground running to destroy the country? Sheesh...cut him some slack! He hasn't done anything yet! Let's wait until he ACTUALLY destroys the country/planet before we crucify him, okay? You might find yourself pleasantly surprised that he actually does something GOOD for us!

    November 6, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  13. Jim

    This guys father was a member of the Irgun, the zionist organization in the 1930's and 1940s. Here's from Wikipedia : "In the West, Irgun was described as a terrorist organization by The New York Times newspaper."

    So much for mideast peace.

    November 6, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  14. Brian

    Wasn't the republicans who stated that Obama lacked experience, yet they ridicule him for surrounding himself with people who have experience? Please shut up.

    November 6, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. linda from South Dakota

    re; dave,, wheather ,, hot head or straigh-forward,, hes obamas choice and i trust him,,, sometimes we need someone who will stand up and voice ,,,like biden,, i admire him alot,,,, it will take time, but we will be better off in time,,,

    November 6, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. Really?

    To all those negative people out here: We survived 8 years of Bush regime. You think this guy is going to be worse than that? He is definitely smarter than a lot of people in America, so chill, everything will be ok. The earth was revolving before, it is revolving now and will continue to do so...people will come and go.

    November 6, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. Dow

    I hope he can get something done regarding priority number 1...the market obviously is exuberant about Obama's election.

    November 6, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. ROSANNE COSTANZA

    THIS IS FOR GOVENER OF CALIFORNIA. I JUST WANT TO SAY HOW HAPPY YOU HAVE MADE ME.(SARCASTICLY) I AM A DISABEL 64 YEAR OLD WOMEN. I LIVE ON MY DISABILITY. BECAUSE MY SHARE OF COST IS OVER $ 501.00 ON MY MEDI-CAL HE HAS DECIDED TO TAKE FROM ME $ 96.40 OUT OF MY DISABILITY TO PAY MY MEDICARE PART B PREMIUMS .THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A LITTLE TO SOME WHO HAVE SALARYS OF OVER $145,000.00 PER YEAR. BUT FOR US WHO BARLERY MAKE $20,000.00 PER YEAR ITS VERY UN -FAIR. THE POOR, THE DISABLE, AND THE SENIORS ,ARE ALWAYS GETTING HURT. WHEN ARE THE RICH GOING TO HELP THE PEOPLE, AND STOP BEING SO GREEDY ,WE DIDENT GET OURSELFS INTO THIS BUDGET MESS THE GOVERMENT, AND THE STUPID SPECIAL INTRESS, THAT GET MONEY FOR THE MOST REDICULESS THINGS, GOT THE ECONOMY WHERE IT IS TODAY. I WISH ALL THAT ARE WEALTHY, WOULD LIVE ON DISABILITY, AND SEE HOW HARD IT IS. SHAME ON THE HIGHER UPS IN OFFICE.
    A VERY HURT AMERICAN, WHO WORKED MOST OF HER LIFE , AND CANT ANY MORE, DO TO MEDICAL, TO BE TREATED LIKE THIS. ( SHAME, SHAME SHAME, GOVENER ARNOLD)
    THANK YOU, CNN

    November 6, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. starting with a clean slate

    Well said Beth! We all need to be patient!

    Folks, give him a chance before you start condemning him and his administration!!

    November 6, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. JamesNC

    When are we going to give Obama a chance. He just got elected two days ago and is trying to pick the best people for his cabinet. We still have 77 days left of GW. it can't be any worse then him.

    November 6, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  21. Candid

    A great leader is the person who knows how to use people around him effectively.

    November 6, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  22. George Ennis from Toronto, Canada

    News FLASH: Political Center Discovered

    The political center is to far far to the left of where the Republican party is today. In fact if I am not mistaken the Republican party has driven so far to the right that they have driven over the cliff.

    November 6, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. alan

    there will alwys be hate from the right. from talking with folks that i work with, especially those on the right there is a attribute there that i rarely see in dems. at least not as pronounced. obama said it best in one of his speeches... "when was greed an acceptable social behavior"

    November 6, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  24. Harry, IL

    Rahm Emanuel is a Bill Clinton guy. He has no bipartisanship. It shows what Chicago politics is. It is better if Jeremiah Wright comes in as one of the cabinet members.

    November 6, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. mjc

    I appreciate the fact that Rahm Emanuel took into consideration his family's needs and wanted to consult with them first. That speaks a great deal about him as an inividual. President Elect Obama needs the best and the brightest on his team, especially energetic and intelligent individual that knows how to get things done.

    November 6, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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