President Barack Obama named William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former commerce secretary, as his chief of staff, putting a Washington veteran with strong ties to business into a key White House job.
“Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,” Obama said at the White House with Daley at his side. “He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy.”
Daley also has “a smidgen of awareness” of how government works, Obama said. “You might say it is a genetic trait.”
Daley, 62, is the youngest son of the late Richard J. Daley, who served more than 21 years as Chicago’s mayor, and the brother of the city’s current mayor, Richard M. Daley. He was also a political mentor to Rahm Emanuel, with whom he worked in President Bill Clinton’s administration. Emanuel, 51, who served as Obama’s first chief of staff, now is running to succeed Daley’s brother, who is retiring.
Daley’s appointment comes amid a retooling of the administration as Obama prepares an agenda for the second half of his term and gears up for a re-election campaign in 2012. Tomorrow he’ll name Treasury Department official Gene Sperling to replace Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council, according to administration officials.
Daley will replace Pete Rouse, whom Obama named on Oct. 1 to fill the role on an interim basis after Emanuel departed. Rouse had indicated that he was reluctant to remain in that job for the rest of Obama’s presidency. He will stay on as an adviser, Obama said.
Daley said public service “is an honorable calling” and “I am pleased to answer your call.”
Ken Duberstein, chief of staff to former President Ronald Reagan, called Daley “a consummate team player who knows Washington and the business community.”
“He’s accustomed to dealing in the rough and tumble of Chicago and national politics, with easy entrée to the business community and to the various power players on Capitol Hill,” Duberstein said.
During the 2008 presidential race, Daley was an economic adviser to Obama and was a co-chairman of his transition team after the election. He was Clinton’s commerce secretary from January 1997 to June 2000.
After serving as president of SBC Communications for more than two years, he joined New York-based JPMorgan, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, in 2004, serving as Midwest chairman and the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
Besides his work as a banker, he serves on several corporate boards, including Boeing Co. and Abbott Laboratories. Daley was named by Clinton to the board of Washington-based Fannie Mae in October 1993 and was reappointed in 1995.
Daley’s ties to the business and financial community may help the administration as Obama continues an effort to increase cooperation between government and business to accelerate the nation’s economic recovery.
The administration is seeking to repair relations with businesses after coming under fire from industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The country’s biggest business lobbying group opposed Obama’s health-care and financial-regulatory overhauls and committed $75 million to political ads in the midterm congressional elections, mainly directed against Democrats.
Reaction from Chamber
Daley drew a positive reaction from the Chamber today.
“This is a strong appointment,” Thomas Donohue, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with him to accelerate our recovery, grow the economy, create jobs, and tackle America’s global challenges.”
For the rest of his term, the president is faced with the challenge of getting his agenda through a House of Representatives now controlled by Republicans and a Senate where his Democratic Party has a narrower majority.
“These next two years are going to be a time of negotiation and compromise, checks and balances and trying to find common ground rather than creating a landslide of legislation all on one side of the aisle,” said Duberstein, who met with Obama Dec. 10 in the Oval Office.
The president also is preparing for the 2012 campaign, in which the economy is likely to continue as the top issue.
Tomorrow he plans to name Sperling to head the NEC, which coordinates administration economic policy and gauges the effect of legislation. As counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sperling already is a regular contributor to White House economic policy discussions.
As part of the shift toward the next presidential race, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced yesterday he will leave the administration early next month. Gibbs said he will serve as an outside adviser to Obama and work on the 2012 campaign.
Senior adviser David Axelrod, an architect of Obama’s 2008 election, previously has said he plans to leave the White House in the coming weeks and return to Chicago before rejoining Obama’s re-election effort.
Deputy chief of staff Jim Messina also is likely to leave the administration to begin setting up the re-election bid out of Chicago. Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, will join the White House staff Jan. 10 as an adviser to the president.