Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Bill Daley out as White House chief of staff

| No Comments

Updated with President Obama comments, Daley to co-chair re-elect....final print version at top, earlier at the click.....


White House chief of staff Bill Daley is resigning, President Obama announced on Monday, and will be departing 10 months earlier than expected. Daley will be replaced by Budget Director Jack Lew.

Daley told me he will return to Chicago sometime near the end of the month, after Obama's Jan. 24 State of the Union speech and the federal budget rollout. Daley will become a co-chair of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, based in Chicago.

President Obama -- who hits Chicago Wednesday for three fund-raising events -- discussed the move in brief comments from the White House, flanked by Daley and Lew.
"I didn't accept Bill's decision right away. In fact, I asked him to take a couple of days to make sure that he was sure about this. But in the end, the pull of the hometown we both love -- a city that's been synonymous with the Daley family for generations -- was too great. Bill told me that he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren, and he felt it was the right decision," Obama said.

Daley offered his resignation letter, dated Jan. 3, after returning from a holiday vacation in Mexico. Daley wrote to Obama, "I have been honored to be a small part of your administration. It is time for me to go back to the city I love."

Daley, a former commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, followed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the chief of staff job after Emanuel stepped down to run for mayor.

A former JPMorgan Chase Bank executive when Obama tapped him in January 2010, Daley was hired in part to be a bridge between the White House, the business community and the Republicans in Congress -- a job that eventually ceased to exist as relations continued to fray, especially with Republicans.

Daley was not especially close to Obama but shared in common friendships with political strategist David Axelrod and Emanuel.

By clearing out in a few weeks rather than staying through what is expected to be a tough re-election battle, Daley leaves while the Obama administration is on a high note. Axelrod told me Daley steps down after a "long and challenging" year but during a period where "arrows [are] pointing up."

Last year, Daley was put in an uncomfortable position within the White House -- he was the target of internal sniping and infighting that led to a series of Washington stories. Some reports were fed by staffers who preferred Emanuel's frenzied, chaotic micromanagement to Daley's corporate style. Other stories came from Capitol Hill, where Daley had a frosty relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The beginning of the end for Daley started in October, when he gave a candid interview with Politico's Roger Simon, where he blamed Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress. Later in October, Daley told NBC5 Chicago that he was going to stay only through the November 2012, election.
In November, Daley was demoted and Obama tapped Pete Rouse, who was Obama's Illinois Senate chief of staff, to run day-to-day operations. Daley continued to handle the broader management and strategic chores, with Obama in the Situation Room and for the Presidential Daily Brief and, at the end of the day, huddling with Obama for the "Daily Wrap."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
NASHUA, NH--White House chief of staff Bill Daley is resigning, President Obama announced on Monday, departing earlier than expected after a rocky tenure. Daley will be replaced by Budget Director Jack Lew. He will become a co-chair of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, based in Chicago.

President Obama discussed the move flanked by Daley and Lew, not taking questions after brief comments. Obama said he originally did not accept Daley's resignation. Daley's departure comes a day before Obama returns home to Chicago for three fund-raising events.

Obama said Daley was leaving for reasons that seem very vague: to return to Chicago and to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

"I didn't accept Bill's decision right away. In fact, I asked him to take a couple of days to make sure that he was sure about this. But in the end, the pull of the hometown we both love -- a city that's been synonymous with the Daley family for generations -- was too great. Bill told me that he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren, and he felt it was the right decision."

"...I plan to continue to seek Bill's advice and counsel in the years to come," Obama said.

Daley will become a co-chair of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, based in Chicago.

"He's got a ton of political experience, knowledge and contacts and we look forward to leveraging those assets and working closely together to re-elect the President this year," a member of the Obama team told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In his resignation letter, dated Jan. 3, Daley wrote to Obama, "I have been honored to be a small part of your administration. It is time for me to go back to the city I love."

Daley, a former Commerce Secretary and brother of former Mayor Richard Daley, followed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the job last year, but seemed mismatched for the position as the political and governmental situations changed. Daley was not close to Obama and the two did not share much in common except political strategist David Axelrod and Emanuel.

Last year, Daley told NBC5 Chicago that he was going to stay only through the end of Obama's first term. Last year, Daley was put in an uncomfortable position within the White House after much sniping and infighting--he was demoted from running day-to-day operations, turning them over to Pete Rouse, who served as interim chief after Emanuel left.

Daley, a former Chase Bank executive, was hired in part to be a bridge between the White House,the business community and the Republicans in Congress--a job that soon ceased to exist as relations continued to fray--especially with Republicans-- and eventually snap all together.

The beginning of the end for Daley started in October, in an interview he gave to to Politico's Roger Simon where he blamed congressional Democrats--as well as Republicans--for the deadlocks.

"On the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive," Daley said. "This has led to a kind of frustration."

At that point, Daley barely had a relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and by November, his position was reconfigured with Rouse taking on the day-to-day role.

Daley "retains obviously all of his authority and ultimate responsibility for the White House operations and White House staff," White House press secretary Jay Carney said at an early November briefing. "... It's less about transferring duties than it is about adding responsibilities without subtracting any from anybody else.

Daley was tapped by Obama in January, 2010 and started a few weeks later.

Obama, in naming Daley said then, "Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton's Cabinet, as Commerce secretary . . . He's led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And, needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait."

Daley returned to Washington from the banking world, the Midwest chief for J.P. Morgan Chase since 2004, before that president of SBC. He's also run Chicago's Amalgamated Bank and as a partner at the law firm of Mayer Brown, handled government relations, with his close relationship to the late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski very helpful. Obama White House policy will call for Daley to recuse himself from any J.P. Morgan matter for two years.

One of Daley's major accomplishments was as "NAFTA Czar," winning congressional approval for then-President Clinton of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- with a big assist from Emanuel. Clinton named Daley to the Fannie Mae board and in his second term made Daley his Commerce secretary, where Daley performed for the first time on a global stage.

Vice President Gore drafted Daley to take over his troubled 2000 presidential bid. By that time Daley had advised the 1988 Biden presidential campaign and Vice President Mondale's 1984 bid.

In October, Daley said his best day on the job was the Sunday when Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. The worse day was when negotiations failed for a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 9, 2012 1:25 PM.

New Hampshire GOP primary: Fight for second was the previous entry in this blog.

Bill Daley to co-chair Obama 2012 campaign is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.