- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2008


llinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, an architect of the Democrats’ congressional gains in the past two elections, has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s offer of White House chief of staff.

A Democratic aide has confirmed Emanuel informed Speaker Nancy Pelosi of his decision and will vacate his seat in the House of Representatives.

The pick belied Obama’s promise to bring a “new kind of politics” to Washington because of Emanuel’s reputation as a fierce partisan with strong ties to the Clinton White House, where he worked as an aide and ran damage control for the Monica Lewinsky affair and campaign-finance scandals.

Republicans reacted differently to the appointment.

“This is a wise choice by President-elect Obama,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who negotiated presidential-debate details with Mr. Emanuel. “Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills. He can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together. He is well-suited for the position of White House chief of staff.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio wasn’t impressed with Mr. Obama’s first major appointment. “This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil and govern from the center.”

More recently, Emanuel served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2005-2006 cycle, when the Democrats regained a majority for the first time since 1994.

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Emanuel is known for raking in huge amounts of campaign cash.

This year the DCCC, which is now headed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, outspent Republicans by pouring tens of millions of dollars into House races and helped Democrats pick up more than 20 seats Tuesday.

This is the first of President-elect Obama’s decisions as he begins the transition process.

As word went out that Mr. Emanuel had accepted the post of chief of staff, Mr. Obama was receiving an intelligence briefing at the FBI office in Chicago from top U.S. intelligence officials.

The president-elect planned his first public appearances since his victory for Friday.

After meeting with economic advisers tomorrow, he will then talk to the press about his plans for the economy.

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be visiting the White House on Monday at President Bush’s request. “I look forward to discussing those [economic] issues with the president-elect early next week,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush noted the economic problems, saying, “Ensuring that this transition is as smooth as possible is a priority for the rest of my presidency,” adding that “we face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in.”

“Michelle and I look forward to meeting with President Bush and the first lady on Monday to begin the process of a smooth, effective transition,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I thank him for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship that will be required to meet the many challenges we face as a nation.”

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