Obama's Priority: Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary

Obama indicates that he will have several Republicans on his team.

ByABC News
November 5, 2008, 9:22 AM

Nov. 5, 2008 — -- The jubilant crowd of an estimated quarter-million people had barely cleared out of the victory party in Chicago when President-elect Barack Obama began shaping his administration.

Obama offered the job of chief of staff to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, ABC News' Jake Tapper reported today.

Emanuel, a veteran of President Clinton's administration and a close political ally of Obama's from Chicago, hasn't immediately given his answer.

Obama likes that Emanuel knows policy, knows politics and knows Capitol Hill and has told associates that he knows Emanuel will "have his back," ABC News' chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said of the offer.

Obama didn't have time to savor his history-making victory over Republican John McCain that made him America's first black person to win the White House.

The Illinois senator amassed 338 electoral votes to McCain's 162, although three states -- Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina -- remain too close to project.

In a Rose Garden statement today, President Bush congratulated Obama on his "impressive" victory and noted the historic significance of electing the country's first black president.

"No matter how they cast their votes, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made," Bush said.

"It will be a stirring sight to watch Barack Obama; his wife, Michelle; and their two beautiful daughters step over the threshold of the White House," he said.

The president acknowledged "we are embarking on a period of change in Washington" and promised his "complete cooperation" in the transition in the next two months.

The sweeping triumph, which included winning six states that had voted Republican in 2004, triggered euphoric crowds to turn out in Chicago, where Obama claimed his victory, as well as in New York City's Times Square and Harlem, and on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

By the time the dancing in the streets had ended, names were being bandied over the airwaves about whom Obama would name to his Cabinet.

The president-elect has signaled that he will rely heavily on former members of Clinton's administration and that he plans to include several Republicans on his team.

His transition team will be headed by Clinton veteran John Podesta, his current Senate chief of staff Pete Rouse, and Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett. Tapper reports that the team will include former Clinton Cabinet members William Daley and Fredrico Pena, as well as Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Obama intends to quickly settle on a secretary of treasury to help bring stability to the country's shaky economy.

"If people think there is a direction, a vision, a plan that we're moving forward, you can change the psychology, help the markets to settle down," Clinton's former chief of staff Mack McLarty told "Good Morning America."

Timothy Geithner, president of New York's Federal Reserve Bank, and Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, are believed to be the leading contenders.