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. Chris from St. Louis

    Obama, Bush, .... anybody .... please get the market fixed as soon as possible. We need somebody to step up and calm the market.

    If there are any rich guys out there .... please buy some stocks and save the world!!

    November 6, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  2. MissingThePoint

    Many are missing the point here. Emanuel may very well be the best man for this job, but it goes against the “change” that Obama promised. Emanuel is a political insider. One who for example helped tried to cover Clinton’s lies. He was also a Wall Street insider. You know, one of those greedy slime bags that shafted Main Street. Obama said he would fight against people like this. He lied to us. Give him a chance you say? He is already breaking promises and he isn't even President yet! I am shocked that people don't see this. Talk about blind obedience! Oh and notice how Pelosi is already telling him what to do. I see stupid people…

    November 6, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. j

    It seems to me that the GOP is already predisposed to grumble and whine about whatever choice Obama makes, no matter who it is. Both parties have to meet each other half way in order for agreements to be reached. It doesn't look like the GOP is willing to make that journey. I hope people will take note of who cooperates and who doesn't so we'll know who to vote out in the next election. Those that don't support unity and cooperation, should get the boot. I'm not saying that the GOP should agree with everything that the Dems put forth, they shouldn't, but they should be willing to provide their own solutions and work toward some common ground both sides can agree upon.

    November 6, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. Lisa Zeankowski aka lbfightsms

    JANUARY 20, 2009 is when the President Elect gets sworn in...they watch his first 100 days in office...that's what sets the tone...President Bush is still our President...pay attention!!!

    The President Elect is ONLY selecting his staff...a job that he has to do, this is called the days of transistion of power...not power turned over and walla 8 years of hell turned over by miracle...did anyone but me hear his acceptance speech...he was quite clear and very honest...change won't come over night, it might not even come in one term...but it will come! HE needs OUR help!!! NOT OUR FIGHTING... if those who are anxious to see him fall would open their eyes and see that all this mud slinging is exactly where the problems lie, that would be the first step to fixing things...I think given time this amazing man we elected to be our 44th President will heal our country in more ways then in just the economy.... Lisa

    November 6, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. MD

    This is a no brainer. Smart people tend to surround themselves with other smart people. That way they don't have to micro-manage every aspect of every job that needs to be done.

    I understand the Republican's frustration. They've always been sore losers but for goodnees sakes, can we give the man a break for just one second.

    I watched Joe Scarborough try to make this decision into something all morning on MSNBC. I had to switch back to CNN...

    November 6, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. obama fan

    I am absolutely ashamed of America when I read some of these comments. The whole world is watching and some people just cannot accept the fact that the majority of America has spoken. We are the ones that voted Obama as POTUS. We as America want peace and no war and we cannot even have peace here at home. Looks to me that we have alot of people here that need to grow up and get over it. If he does that bad as POTUS, which I don't think he will, but if he does we can vote him out. Just give the man a chance. He hasn't even started yet and people are already thinking he is going to fail. If the rest of the world thinks we made a good choice then should that not say something about peace.

    November 6, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  7. Worried Texan

    The Dow dropped almost 1000 points since Obama was elected.
    I'm seriously, SERIOUSLY worried.

    November 6, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  8. Jeff, MN

    I find it disgusting that so many people with so little knowledge have so much to say. This is politics folks. George W. Bush said he would be "everybody's" president, then proceeded to push his own agenda that only half the nation supported (much less than that now). Barack Obama has an obligation to turn the country around and that will mean undoing a lot fo the damage done over the last four years. Also, a good manager surrounds himself (or herself) with people who know more than he or she does in particular areas. Their job is to advise the President. Obama is brilliant but he does not know everything–no one does. Especially some of the cranks that post in these blogs.

    Obama has my full support!

    November 6, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  9. Mark

    Nice choice.....chief of staff needs a very strong person/organizer/doer in that particular role.....save the diplomats for other roles

    November 6, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. values

    We will see a professionally run white house not like those clowns for the last 8 years. Obama will get the best people for the job. Stand back and watch the beauty that will unfold. Black man always cleans up when thing are at its worst. Get ready.

    November 6, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  11. ran

    Good pick. Now the work can begin.. People continue to support Obama/Biden in getting this country working for us all.

    November 6, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  12. Lyndon,CA

    If the Republican leader in the House thought he would be getting a pansy in this president elect, this appointment should give him pause to reconsider.

    November 6, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Rainy

    Sour grapes on the part of the Repugs.

    They are already looking for ways to start impeachment proceedings as they did with Clinton.

    Emails being sent from the organization is already loaded with crap to its followers.

    Obama will change Washington and the crap that exists. Now all he has to do is get rid of Pelosi who like Bush smacks of incompetence and arrogance.

    November 6, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. JACKED-UP-POLITICS, FLORIDA

    For all of the clowns who are having a fit about Obama's selections thus far for various offices, hold on to your pants. He said that he would have a bi-partison cabinet but he did not promise you folks that it would be all Republicans.

    Some folks are acting as if he is not going to appoint other republicans. Get a grip and a life. Please

    November 6, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  15. Matt

    In the spirit of bipartisanship... Obama selected the second most partisan people in congress.... after Pelosi

    November 6, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Change, huh?

    November 6, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  17. saftgek

    The credentials of Rahm Emanuel are unarguable. His attitude and communication skills are more than open to challenge.

    When people resort to raised voice and profanity, they disrespect themselves as the sender, and disrespect the receiver as well.

    Further, they declare a controlling attitude and suggest their position is weak.

    For someone to supervise a staff for the President of the United States, they should lead by example. If President-elect Obama's entire staff runs around screaming and swearing, what will get done?

    Respect for self and others should be a foundation block of the Obama Administration. Rahm Emanuel should take note.

    November 6, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  18. DL

    Looks like a re-hash of Clinton's staff

    Where's Jeremiah, Ayers, Rezko, Khalidi, Odinga fit in this picture?

    Oprah can be officially named the NATIONAL KNOW IT ALL IN CHARGE OF IDIOTS AND LEMMINGS

    November 6, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    That's right Emanuel knows how to "TCB" ask the Republicans, if you run across the few that are left.

    November 6, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  20. Alex

    All you Nay sayers really need to stop your crying now!!!

    Just look at what President Obama has accomplished getting him to where he is now. That should be a hint and a half for yourselve's that he can and will get the job done for the whole country, all Americans!!! and the rest of the world will benefit as well from his leadership.
    He is going to do right by the country people!! Please stop ya belly ache'n already simply because your choices didn't make the grade this time around. You folks backed GWB jr and all his bulls**t and look what's happened. Back your President people, if you call yourselves true Americans!!! Back Him!!! He's the right person in that important Job..and what s**t's you nay sayer's now is that you know it!!!

    November 6, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  21. Erica

    I think that was a good choice. All other posters, don't be mad b/c John McCain lost by a landslide...he didn't even make it to 200. The people spoke...PERIOD. You wanted people who didn't care for Crazy Bush to support him, because he was the president. Do the same for PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA...(smile-wink). You'll see how things will turn out. Relax.

    November 6, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  22. maurice

    i voted for mcain . People give it a rest, the man has 75 days til he`s in office Let him make his choices and if they dont work out i`m sure he will replace them. I voted for bush twice and have no regrets, just as i have none voting for mcain. Obama is our soon to be president. Give him a break. Let him have a few months in office and see what happens. This is after all america. No ones gonna kick down your door and take your guns. No ones gonna make you bow down and worship them as god. Grow a brain folks, it does help in the long run. I talked to a black woman that had quite the brain today. And she works in the motel bussiness, as in a room service maid. She was right on it... she is tired of not getting ahead but works her heart out. Is not racist but fair. She is also tired of people who dont better themselves getting freee handouts. That is why she voted for obama. So imagine that im white and voted for mcain and she is black and voted for obama. And had a intelligen conversation. So see it really isnt that hard to figure out. You can be nice to other people and give them a chance. If i was closed minded i would have never had that conversation today. So all off you closed minded 1 sided people open your eyes and mind.Free yourselves on ignorance and hate. It really isnt that hard..

    November 6, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  23. Mrs. Daniel

    President-Elect Obama was under estimated and seconded guessed throughout the campaign (primary and general), I supported and trusted his judgement than and now. Lets go we have a lot of work to do.

    November 6, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  24. Rick K

    John Boehner calls Obama chicken sh!tte, and now he complains about a tough-minded choice for COS, using partisanship as an explanation.

    Dude, the more you open your mouth, the more you paint yourself with the "I'm part of the problem" brush.

    Go figure out what your party stands for and let someone else drive for a while.

    November 6, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. Electra

    Shut up and chill 'America loses' you sound like a broken record, noone cares what you think moron. Do you know what you are actually saying?
    Its a shame you cant take a leaf out of McCain's book and act with humility and grace and support PRESIDENT OBAMA!

    November 6, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
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