Obama Transition Comes Into Focus

By Lindsey Ellerson

Nov 6, 2008 2:28pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: President-Elect Barack Obama on Thursday began filling out what will become his new administration, naming two close advisers to high-ranking leadership posts, scheduling his first post-election visit to Washington, and arranging a Friday meeting with his economic team.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., accepted the position of White House chief of staff on Thursday, a day after it was formally offered to him by his friend and fellow Chicaogan.

And David Axelrod, another Chicago native who served as Obama’s chief strategist during his presidential campaign, will become a senior adviser in the Obama White House.

On Friday, Obama plans to meet with his economic advisers, though he is not expected to name a Treasury secretary at that time. He’ll also take his first questions from the press as president-elect.

On Monday, Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be in Washington, where they’ll get a White House tour from President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

The choice of Emanuel, the hard-charging former Clinton White House aide and deputy House Democratic whip, elicited the first sharp partisan words from prominent Republicans since Election Day.

“This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center,” said House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The Republican National Committee reference Emanuel’s some-time nickname — “Rahmbo” — and deriding him as a “partisan insider who played a lead role in breaking Washington.

“Barack Obama’s first decision as President-elect undermines his promise to ‘heal the divides,’ ” said Alex Conant, an RNC spokesman. “The White House needs a chief of staff – not a chief campaigner like Emanuel.”

Democrats praised the choice, nothing Emanuel’s background in high-profile posts in both the executive and legislative branches.

“He is the perfect choice. He knows the Hill, he knows substance, he knows politics, and most importantly, he can get the job done,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who headed Senate election efforts while Emanuel lead House Democratic election efforts during the 2006 election cycle.

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