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William Daley: Obama signals shift to center with pick for chief of staff

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Still, Obama didn’t shy away from the Chicago connection – and Daley family history – in his announcement from the East Room of the White House, calling Daley “an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, [and] fellow Chicagoan.”

“He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy,” Obama said. “And needless to say, Bill also adds a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait.”

Daley, too, brought his family – and President Kennedy -- into his brief remarks. He recalled a visit to the White House 50 years ago this month with his parents and brothers and sisters “to visit a young president, who went on to show great strength, leadership, and vision in the face of enormous challenges in those times.”

“You, Mr. President, have proven your strength, your leadership, your vision during a most difficult time for our nation and for the world,” Daley continued. “You have also shown through your example that public service is an honorable calling and I am pleased to answer your call.”

Daley replaces interim chief of staff Pete Rouse, who will return to his position as a counselor to Obama. Mr. Rouse took over for Rahm Emanuel, who resigned in September to run for mayor of Chicago. The retiring mayor, Richard M. Daley, is William Daley’s older brother; both are sons of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Now two years in, the Obama administration is at a natural moment for personnel changes. But the November election results – handing Republicans control of the House amid marked public dissatisfaction with the Democrats – have added an imperative for reexamination of both policies and politics. Obama has said he hopes to move forward with the kind of bipartisanship that marked the productive lame-duck session of Congress, and Daley will be a key player in shaping that new approach. Expect to see Daley regularly on television as a surrogate for Obama.

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