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Remarks on the Appointment of William M. Daley as White House Chief of Staff

January 06, 2011

Please have a seat, everybody. Happy New Year. Last October, when my former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, departed to pursue other opportunities in Chicago, I asked Pete Rouse, one of my most trusted aides, to step into the breach and lead us through a very difficult time. And I also asked Pete to help us think about how the White House should be structured and run over the next 2 years.

Thanks in no small part to his efforts, a period that everybody thought would be one of retrenchment turned out to be one of great progress for our country. And Pete's leadership is all the more remarkable when you consider that when I first met him and asked him to lead my Senate staff, he told me in that gruff voice of his that his "strong inclination was to leave government." After--[Laughter]--the reason everybody is applauding is because they've heard him say that every day--[Laughter]--they've heard him say that every day for the last 6 years. And yet each time I've asked him to accept one more assignment, he's saddled up and he's taken the job. And it's fair to say that I would not be where I am today without his extraordinary counsel.

Now, Pete didn't volunteer to serve as Interim Chief of Staff. He made it clear that that was not his preference. But he accepted the responsibility, and as he oversaw our strategy during the lame duck session of Congress, he also was working to develop a structure and a plan for the next 2 years that I believe will serve the White House and, more importantly, the American people very well. One of those assignments was providing me recommendations for candidates to serve as Chief of Staff moving forward.

As part of that process, today I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley, to serve as my Chief of Staff.

Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton's Cabinet as Commerce Secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country. He's led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait. [Laughter]

But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people. He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values, and forward-looking vision to this White House. I'm convinced that he'll help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward. And I very much look forward to working with Bill in the years to come.

Before I ask Bill to say a few words, I should also confess that I have prevailed once again on Pete's sense of duty--or sense of guilt, I'm not sure which--and I'm grateful that he has agreed to one more tour of duty as my counselor for the next 2 years. He is--[Applause]--as you might have noticed, people like Pete. [Laughter] He is a unique and indispensable asset to me and to this administration. I cannot imagine life here without him, and I told him so. And I'm delighted that we're able to keep him a little bit longer.

I'll be making further announcements in the days and weeks ahead, and I am absolutely confident that we will have a great team that's equal to America's task in the years to come. But with that, what I'd like to do is to introduce my new Chief of Staff, Bill Daley.

Note: The President spoke at 2:29 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Chief of Staff Daley.

Barack Obama, Remarks on the Appointment of William M. Daley as White House Chief of Staff Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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