By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 6, 2011; 12:17 PM
President Obama has chosen former Commerce secretary William Daley as his permanent chief of staff, bringing in a relative outsider and a seasoned political operative to manage his administration heading into the re-election campaign, White House officials said Thursday.
Obama will make the announcement at 2:30 p.m., officials said. Pete Rouse, who served as interim chief of staff after Rahm Emanuel left the position last October, will remain as counselor the president.
The announcement follows a furtive visit by Daley to the White House on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the hiring process.
Also on Wednesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced his own departure from the administration to run his own consulting business. That move has set off a scramble to replace him, and although there have been clear front-runners discussed - deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Vice President Biden's communications director Jay Carney - administration officials said the search process is only now beginning.
At a White House meeting earlier Wednesday, advisers reviewed names of some potential successors to Gibbs, among them Burton and Carney as well as Josh Earnest, another deputy. Outside contenders also are in the mix, including at least one woman, but officials did not share the complete list of names.
How long the search process might take remains to be seen: Former campaign manager David Plouffe joins the administration Monday and is said to want a hand in hiring the next press secretary, which will fall under his jurisdiction. And if Daley - or anyone else - is tapped as chief of staff, that person would also likely want a say, officials said.
Burton and Carney have been on the short list since rumors about Gibbs' departure from the podium first surfaced months ago. Burton, a longtime Obama aide, has been the sole surrogate for Gibbs during presidential vacations and trips, taking the podium more than 50 times over the last two years. He also would be the first African-American press secretary. But he is relatively young - 33 years old - which some advisers have said could be seen as a drawback.
Carney, a former bureau chief and reporter for Time Magazine, has helped revamp the image of a gaffe-prone Biden and been the rare outsider to find acceptance in the Obama circle. But he has not been tested in front of reporters from behind a podium, nor managed communications during the cauldron of a political campaign.