November 6, 2008

‘Rahmbo’ Joins Obama’s Team

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the architect of the 2006 Democratic takeover of the House, will take his aggressive, pragmatic style of politics to the White House.

President-elect Barack Obama asked his Chicago political ally to be the White House chief of staff, an offer Emanuel accepted Thursday, media reports said.

Caught heading out of his Chicago office for lunch with his wife, Amy, Emanuel said he was "happy that my parents are still alive" to see him have the choice of being a congressman and being the "chief of staff in a historic presidency."

In an August interview with Politico, Emanuel said Obama needed an aggressive agenda to fulfill his campaign promises.

"In the White House, you can be on the pitcher's mound or you can be in the catcher's position," he said. "Put points on the board. Show people you can govern. Deliver on what you said you were going to deliver on."

It will be a homecoming of sorts because Emanuel was an adviser to former President Bill Clinton in the Washington and on the campaign trail.

"My first impression was, 'This guy is going to help us win.' And he did. I doubt we could have done it without him," Clinton said in a 2006 Chicago Tribune interview on Emanuel's role in his 1992 campaign.

The 48-year-old Chicago congressman and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus -- making him the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House -- has been described in the past as a profane and hyperactive, TIME magazine and CNN reported in a profile that ran Thursday.

Elected to the House in 2002, Emanuel's Washington pedigree is seen as a complement to Obama's relative inexperience of just four years in Congress.

Emanuel's "high energy directness will serve him well" as chief of staff, said Mack McLarty, Clinton's chief of staff.

For his dogged effort to return the House to Democrats, Emanuel earned the moniker "Rahmbo."

After studying ballet in high school -- and offered a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet -- Emanuel earned a bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a master's degree from Northwestern University.

Before working for Clinton, Emanuel worked for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. In between his stints in Washington, Emanuel was an investment banker and once sat on the board for mortgage financer Freddie Mac. He recuses himself from any congressional votes on the mortgage giant.