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Who is Pete Rouse? He's not Rahm Emanuel

The president's new chief of staff Pete Rouse, hailed by Obama as a 'skillful problem-solver,' is a Washington veteran known for working quietly behind the scenes and avoiding the media.

President Obama (r.) thanks outgoing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (l.) as Emanuel's interim successor Pete Rouse looks on in the East Room at the White House in Washington Oct. 1. Emanuel is stepping down to run for mayor of Chicago.

Jim Young/Reuters

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Pete Rouse, President Obama’s new chief of staff, is a classic Washington denizen: He worked on Capitol Hill for more than 30 years before coming to the White House. His Rolodex is full of bold-faced names, including many who have worked for him over the years. He knows how to get things done.

But to most people, the 64-year-old Mr. Rouse would go unrecognized if they passed him on the street. In contrast to the high-octane departing chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, Rouse goes about his business quietly, solving problems behind the scenes, avoiding the limelight and the media. Don’t look for him on “Meet the Press” anytime soon.

For Mr. Obama, the promotion of Rouse, at least temporarily, represents a thread of continuity at a time of political transition, just a month before midterm elections in which Democrats are expected to take a drubbing. Rouse has been at Obama’s side since his election to the Senate in 2004, serving as his chief of staff and helping him learn Washington – and, with time, crafting a plan to run for president.

“I am very fortunate to be able to hand the baton to my wise, skillful, and longtime counselor Pete Rouse,” Obama said in an East Room sendoff for Mr. Emanuel, who is returning to Chicago to run for mayor.


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