President-elect Barack Obama turned his attention Wednesday to selecting Cabinet officers to help deliver on his campaign pledges to right a faltering economy and ease public concern about two drawn-out wars, offering a key job in his administration to Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel.
Democratic officials say Mr. Emanuel, a former aide in the Clinton White House, has been offered the job chief of staff in the Obama administration, according to the Associated Press. Elected in 2003, he is the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House and chairs the Democratic House caucus.
Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Emanuel is known for his knack in raising campaign money. He’s the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm for House Democrats. The group poured tens of millions of dollars into House races nationwide, outspent Republicans and helped Democrats pick up more than a dozen seats Tuesday.
The campaign announced John Podesta, chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, longtime Obama friend Valerie Jarrett and aide Pete Rouse will oversee Mr. Obama’s transition team, which is being set up through a newly created nonprofit entity called the Obama-Biden Transition Project.
The chief executive of a Chicago real estate management company, Ms. Jarrett could be in the running to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. And Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton, is among the names reportedly considered to lead the Treasury.
The campaign also announced Wednesday afternoon that a 12-person board, including former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, will advise the transition team. Other advisers on the panel include Carol Browner, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton White House.
Across the halls of government, the reality of an orderly transition sunk in Wednesday morning. CIA Director Michael Hayden greeted his own troops with an e-mail preparing them for the job of serving two masters for the next few months: President Bush’s team and the transitional government of President-elect Barack Obama.
“Presidential elections are a centerpiece of our democracy,” Mr. Hayden wrote in his e-mail to staff. “Now that the American people have had their say, their federal government assumes an additional responsibility. Beyond all the tasks in place on November 4th, the public expects us to do what we can to ensure a smooth, effective transition to a new administration. Our Agency would have it no other way.”
Mr. Hayden said the Agency’s “outreach to the President-elect” included two CIA officials who would give Mr. Obama his daily intelligence briefings. The CIA Director also had a candid message for intelligence officers wondering about the security of their jobs in an Obama administration.
President Bush also pledged a smooth transition into the next administration over the next 11 weeks.
Mr. Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden yesterday of a “warm” conversation with Mr. Obama Tuesday night, “I told the president-elect he can count on complete cooperation from my administration as he makes the transition to the White House.”
Mr. Obama’s victory reshaped the electoral map on the strength of historic turnout among both enthusiastic young and minority voters. And his landslide victory ended a two-decade era of politics dominated by the Bush and Clinton families.
The president said the election of a black man to the nation’s highest office “showed a watching world the vitality of our democracy and the strides we have made toward a more perfect union.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, before leaving for the Middle East Wednesday, called Obama “inspirational” and said that as an African American, “I am especially proud because this is a country that’s been through a long journey in terms of overcoming wounds and making race not the factor in our lives. That work is not done, but yesterday was obviously an extraordinary step forward.”