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Obama Picks William Daley As Chief Of Staff

William Daley, President Obama's choice for White House chief of staff, speaks Thursday while the president looks on. The pick brings a renowned power broker on the wavelength of Wall Street into Obama's retooled administration.
Jewel Samad
AFP/Getty Images
William Daley, President Obama's choice for White House chief of staff, speaks Thursday while the president looks on. The pick brings a renowned power broker on the wavelength of Wall Street into Obama's retooled administration.

President Obama on Thursday appointed William M. Daley -- a former Clinton administration official and part of the famed Chicago political family -- as his new chief of staff, calling him an "experienced public servant."

Daley, a sometimes ally, sometimes critic of the president, will step into what is traditionally the most influential advisory job in the White House -- acting as the president's day-to-day sounding board, gatekeeper and scheduler.

Daley "possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy," Obama said at the White House. "Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill Daley brings to this job."

Stepping down from the post is Pete Rouse, who has held the job on an interim basis since Rahm Emanuel resigned three months ago as chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago.

Rouse, who did not want the job permanently and recommended Daley as his replacement, will remain as a counselor to the president, an elevated position from his former job as senior adviser. Daley is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.

Daley is the youngest of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's seven children. He is credited with helping his older brother Richard win their father's old office and hold on to it for the past 22 years.

On the national stage, William Daley helped craft successful campaigns to elect President Clinton and was named commerce secretary under Clinton in 1997.

At the White House announcement on Thursday, Daley thanked the president, praising him for his "proven leadership."

Daley, who is currently Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in an interview with The New York Times last year that the administration had "miscalculated" on health care and moved too far to the left. He has strong centrist credentials and joins the White House just as it finds itself in need of making more bipartisan compromises to get things done.

Word of Daley's appointment brought praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has frequently been at odds with the administration.

"This is a strong appointment. Bill Daley is a man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations, and global affairs. He's an accomplished manager and strong leader. We look forward to working with him to accelerate our recovery, grow the economy, create jobs, and tackle America’s global challenges," Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue said in a statement.

The new job will thrust Daley, 62, into the heart of national politics just as Obama adapts to a new reality in Washington. Republicans now control the House and are working to gut his signature health care law, as well as pushing for major cuts in spending.

For Obama, the move comes amid other major shifts in White House staffing -- among them the impending departure of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who said on Wednesday he would step down by early February. Senior adviser David Axelrod will also be leaving soon, and both of Obama's deputy chiefs of staff, Jim Messina and Mona Sutphen, are exiting soon. David Plouffe, a key member of Obama's inner circle as his former presidential campaign manager, will be joining the senior staff of the White House on Monday.

But the chief of staff position is considered the most consuming job in the White House, helping shape nearly everything that the president deals with -- how he spends his time, how he pursues his strategies on foreign and domestic policy, how he deals with Congress and the public.

When Obama launched his presidential campaign, the Daley family put aside its deep connections to Bill and Hillary Clinton and endorsed the young Illinois senator. Until then, Obama and the Daleys had operated in mostly separate spheres of Illinois politics. After Obama's victory, Daley helped oversee the presidential transition.

Daley laid out his political ideology last year upon joining the board of Third Way, a moderate Democratic think tank.

"We must acknowledge that the left's agenda has not won the support of a majority of Americans -- and, based on that recognition, we must steer a more moderate course," he said at the time.

NPR's David Schaper and Mara Liasson contributed to this report , which also contains material from The Associated Press

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NPR Staff and Wires