Replacing Rahm Emanuel: Who Will Be New White House Chief of Staff?

White House Insiders and VP Staffer Top The List of Likely Replacements

Sept. 28, 2010— -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has not yet confirmed that he will leave Washington in the near future to run for mayor of Chicago, but the writing is on the wall. An announcement is expected Friday, as ABC's Jake Tapper first reported Monday.

Whenever a high-profile government position opens up, the long-time Washington guessing game kicks into gear. Who will it be?

There are a host of names being bandied about as possible successors. Here is a look at the most often and most recently mentioned:

Pete Rouse

Current Position: White House Senior Adviser

The person most often discussed -- at least as the likely interim chief of staff -- is Pete Rouse. He was chief of staff to Sen. Tom Daschle, when Daschle was Senate majority leader. In that role, Rouse was so effective, he was often referred to as the 101st senator. He and Daschle were so enamored with Barack Obama, that when Daschle lost his reelection bid, Rouse went directly from the majority leader's office, to become chief of staff to the newly elected Sen. Obama. Those two years between Obama's election to the Senate and the beginning of his presidential campaign laid the foundation for Obama's rise to the national political stage. When Obama won the presidency in 2008, Rouse followed him to the White House and has helped the president navigate Washington and deal with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Ron Klain

Current Position: Vice President Biden's Chief of Staff

Ron Klain has a sterling resume as a Washington power player. And he's the only one on the chief of staff short list who has been portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the lead role of an HBO movie.

Klain went to Georgetown University and Harvard Law School and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White . He was the top lawyer on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. His boss at the time was Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del, who is his boss once again. Klain's current job as the Vice President's chief of staff is a return engagement of sorts. . He held the same position under former Vice President Al Gore. And that led to his position as lead attorney for Gore in the 2000 Florida recount, a role which was immortalized in the HBO movie Recount, starring Kevin Spacey as Klain. In between his stints in government service, Klain has been a lawyer in private practice at the Washington firm of O'Melveny and Meyers and worked as general counsel at Revolution LLC, the investment firm founded by AOL founder Steve Case.

Tom Donilon

Current Position: Deputy National Security Adviser

Tom Donilon was also on Biden's judiciary committee staff. He also worked as a congressional liaison in the Carter Administration and got foreign policy bona fides working as chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher under President Clinton. According to Bob Woodward's new book "Obama's Wars " about President Obama's foreign policy, Donilon played a key role formulating the policy in Afghanistan, with a surge of troops this year and an open-ended drawdown beginning in the summer of 2011. Donilon's elevation could raise some griping among Republicans. He once worked for Fannie Mae, the mortgage lending giant that required a government bailout.

Jim Messina

Current Position: White House deputy chief of staff

Jim Messina is a well-known political operative. He worked on the campaigns of numerous Democratic lawmakers, particularly in the West, and on Capitol Hill for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. He was the chief of staff for President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Before that he worked for Sen. Max Baucus, the moderate Montana senator and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Messina played an important role for the White House in negotiating the health care reform bill that passed Congress. Messina also worked for Baucus when his boss sided with Republicans and President George W. Bush to help pass the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that President Obama now wants to let expire for everyone making more than $250,000.

Tom Daschle

Current Position: Senior Policy Adviser, DLA Piper, Global Law Firm and former Senator Majority Leader

Daschle, an early and vocal supporter of President Obama's presidential campaign, was supposed to be an integral member of Obama's cabinet. He was nominated to be Health and Human Services secretary and was tasked with shepherding the health care reform bill through the Senate. He had already written a book on just how to do it. But tax issues – his failure to pay some on a car service – scuttled his nomination. Daschle withdrew, and the health care reform law sputtered. It finally passed, but the process was painful, it divided the country, and it energized the political right. It is an episode that could come back to haunt Daschle if he's named to the chief of staff post.

Daschle has experience working in close quarters with Republicans; he was Senate majority leader for two years when Democrats held a one vote majority.

In 2004, Daschle became the first sitting Senate majority leader since 1952 to lose a reelection bid. Nightline traveled with him during that campaign.

David Plouffe

Current Position: Outside Adviser to the White House

David Plouffe was Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager and an engineer of the president's campaign victory. He helpted set up the president's campaign and organizing arm, Organizing for America. But Plouffe did not follow other campaign staffers into the White House. Instead, hehe wrote a book about the campaign. Plouffe is an important voice for Democrats on campaign issues and is working with the White House on a 2010 midterm election strategy. He is also reportedly casting forward to the president's likely 2012 reelection campaign. Plouffe has experience working on Capitol Hill as well.

Dark Horses:

Several former Clinton chiefs of staff are also mentioned as possible replacements for Emanuel. John Podesta is an Obama adviser and currently CEO of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. Leon Panetta is the CIA Director. Both are dark horse possibilities for President Obama, although neither is thought to have expressed interest in the job.

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