On Daley Accepting the Chief of Staff’s Job – Which, Per Rahm, “Has a Great Fireplace and a Great Deck, But Everything In Between Sucks”

By Cullen Dirner

Jan 6, 2011 2:18pm

President Obama called Bill Daley, who stayed overnight in Washington, DC last night, to offer him the job. He will start shortly before the State of the Union address, which is expected on January 25.

At 10:45 am EST, President Obama told his senior advisers – legislative affairs director Phil Schiliro, counsel Bob Bauer, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, director of scheduling Alyssa Mastromonaco, senior adviser David Axelrod, deputy chief of staff Mona Sutphen, deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, press secretary Robert Gibbs, communications director Dan Pfeiffer, and interim chief of staff Pete Rouse – about the decision.

Rouse had already been informed, given that his staying on as chief of staff had been discussed. Rouse, previously a senior adviser to the president, will now serve as his only “counselor,” a promotion.

“Nobody here is more valuable than Pete,” the president told the room, according to attendees.

Rouse and Daley had spent a couple hours together yesterday during Daley’s day-long visit to put the finishing touches on his new role. Rouse had brought Daley to meet with the president last year, during a period when Mr. Obama sought the advice of outside voices after the “shellacking” in the mid-term elections. The president also spoke with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former presidential adviser David Gergen, President Reagan’s chief of staff Ken Duberstein, and two of President Clinton’s former chiefs of staff – John Podesta and CIA director Leon Panetta.

It had not escaped the president’s notice that Daley has criticized the White House for not being centrist enough. In March 2010, Daley told the New York Times that Democrats “miscalculated on health care. The election of '08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left — not left."

Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal reported last year, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had called Daley to see if JP Morgan Chase would support the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Daley said no, though it’s unclear if he rejected the idea because of personal opposition or in his professional capacity.

Agreeing with the president on every issue isn’t a prerequisite for the job, a senior White House official told ABC News.

“Rahm tried to talk the president out of doing health care for a year,” the official said. “This is about getting the best team for the next two years. Daley, Rouse and (incoming senior adviser David) Plouffe – that’s a pretty good team.”

Emanuel had told Rouse that the grueling chief of staff position has one benefit – a stately office.

“It has a great fireplace, and a great deck, but everything in between sucks,” Emanuel told Rouse, according to sources.

Rouse told President Obama this week, “I like the fireplace, but I don’t need the job.”

-Jake Tapper

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus