WASHINGTON--President Obama is giving White House chief of staff and Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel a going away gift: he will elevate Emanuel's departure from his administration by making the announcement--sure to be nationally televised--at 11:05 a.m. on Friday from the East Room. The stature enhancing send off will give Emanuel video he can use on his campaign website and in commercials if he chooses. But don't confuse the upgraded departure announcement with an official endorsement. Even though Obama has said Emanuel would make an "excellent" mayor--it's not an endorsement. I hear there is an internal debate in the White House if Obama will get involved in the mayor's race.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs--under the crazy way this business works sometimes--said at the briefing today that Obama will have a "personnel announcement" on Friday. He declined to say who, and I asked him why the need for the charade, but since we all know by know--various sources have told me--that Emanuel is quitting to run for mayor of Chicago--there was no point in badgering him more.
Anyway...Gibbs, let up a bit more of information---Obama will announce that someone is going (that's Emanuel) and someone is coming--that would be Pete Rouse, to be tapped as interim chief of staff.
Here's the exchange:
Robert Gibbs: "I will say that the president will have a personnel announcement
tomorrow at 11:05 a.m. from the East Room. We will save the specifics
for then. And we'll be happy to get into a long conversation about
that. I don't have any news on that to make at this --
Lynn Sweet: So why the restraint? I mean, everyone knows what this is
about. Why can't you just tell them?
Gibbs: I -- Lynn, I read your paper. I've read a number of
papers. I'm here to tell you the president will have a personnel
announcement tomorrow, and at that point he will deliver that news.
Q So reports are correct.
Q Has the chief of staff told the president that he's
MR. GIBBS: I -- I'm not going to get into that.
Q Can you --
Lynn Sweet: Why is this raising to the level -- you know, sometimes you
make personnel announcements just by paper, you make a release. Why
is this announcement rising to the level of a personal announcement by
Gibbs: Well, I -- without getting into what the announcement
will be -- (laughter) --
Lynn Sweet: I mean, you know, when people listen to this, (does ?) this
sound like a game --
Q This is -- (inaudible).
Lynn Sweet: -- since we're talking about Rahm Emanuel's departure to
run for the mayor of Chicago. So --
Gibbs: Lynn, come up here. You should brief, and
we can -- look, guys, I know -- I --
Lynn Sweet: I'm -- I'm trying to move the ball along here.
Gibbs: I -- we all have deadlines. I understand that. I'm
happy to talk about a whole host of subjects today. I am not going to
move a whole lot on what I've already said.