Barack Obama is poised to announce that he is entrusting the post of his chief of
staff to a low-key White House insider following the announcement
expected on Friday morning that Rahm Emanuel is to step down from the
Peter Rouse, a cat-loving bachelor known for his
aversion to the limelight together with his consummate skills as a
problem solver, has been named by several news sources as Emanuel's
The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs,
indicated that Obama would make a special "personnel announcement" in
the East Room on Friday morning.
Gibbs declined to clarify the
nature of the announcement, but it was assumed that it would combine
Emanuel's resignation and Rouse's promotion.
The changeover comes at a singularly sensitive moment for the Obama administration,
which is facing a likely beating at the polls when the mid-term
elections are held on 2 November. Obama's presidency has been suffering
in recent months from sustained attacks from the revitalised
Republican right as well as widespread criticism that it is failing to win the public relations war.
departure, triggered by his desire to run for mayor of his home town
Chicago following Richard Daley's decision not to seek re-election,
gives Obama the opportunity to try a different tack. In Rouse, he has
chosen a man renowned for his ability to get things done, through his
organisational abilities but also a facility in securing agreement
within a team.
Born and raised in Connecticut on the east coast,
Rouse, 63, has spent most of his working life, bar a brief stint in
Alaska, as a Washington animal.
As aide to the former Democratic
leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, he was given the moniker 101st
Senator out of respect for his substantial influence.
was ousted from his seat in 2004, Rouse had plans to retire but was
enticed to stay on by Obama who had just joined the Senate as a
According to the Anchorage Daily News,
persuaded him to work for him partly with the promise that he had no
intention of running for president in 2008. "So I thought,... how hard
can this be?" Rouse told the newspaper.
Six years later Rouse is
still by Obama's side, and it seems that he has been persuaded for a
second time. Early indications were that Rouse did not fancy the role of
chief of staff and would only accept it on a temporary basis.
But it now appears that he has agreed to the gruelling position on an official basis.
is likely to cut quite a different figure than Emanuel. The incumbent
is a brash character famous for his plain speaking and liberal use of
Rouse by contrast is quietly spoken and
invariably behind the scenes. Going on past record, he can be expected
to run a tight and efficient ship in the White House, but whether he
succeeds in helping Obama to overcome mounting suspicions among the
American people over both his abilities and intentions remains to be