rahm emanuel mitzva 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Friday freed his hard-charging chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to run for mayor of Chicago, replacing the famously raucous White House gatekeeper with Pete Rouse, as quiet and low-key as his predecessor was boisterous.
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Emanuel, who also served in the Clinton White House, has Israeli family and spent significant amounts of time in Israel. Emanuel was most recently in Israel in May for the bar mitzva of his son Zach.
The ceremonial changing of the guard marked a clear loss for Obama, who relied heavily on Emanuel's intensity, discipline and congressional relationships to keep the White House focused and aggressive.
"We could not have accomplished what we've accomplished without Rahm's
leadership," Obama said. Emanuel is departing after nearly two grueling,
rough-and-tumble years in Washington, where the political atmosphere
has become increasingly and bitterly partisan.
Other top aides to Obama have announced their departures in recent
weeks, as the Obama presidency reaches its midpoint. Those kinds of
personnel moves are not unusual two years into a presidential term.
Now, however, the changes occur with Obama's Democratic Party facing
serious challenges in November congressional elections. Widespread
losses by the party — broadly expected — in the House of Representatives
and Senate could signal a much wider White House shake-up.
The announcement that Emanuel was leaving was such a poorly kept secret
that Obama joked it was "the least suspenseful announcement of all
time," but it represented an important moment of transition for the
The mood at the White House reflected that this was no ordinary staff
change. Cabinet members and senior staff members packed the ornate East
Room, a setting often reserved for visits of heads of state, for the
official word that Emanuel, the hard-charging leader of the staff, was
on his way out.
Rouse, named interim chief of staff, is a calm, trusted senior adviser
to Obama who has spent much of his career as a chief of staff in the
Senate. Unlike Emanuel, he rarely talks to the press.
"There is a saying around the White House: 'Let's let Pete fix it,'" Obama said.