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Obama's right hand man leaves White House -

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Obama's right hand man leaves White House

Broadcast: 02/10/2010

Reporter: Lisa Millar

White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel is leaving Barack Obama's under-fire administration to
pursue a political office of his own.

Transcript

TICKY FULLERTON, PRESENTER: In just a few hours time, US president Barack Obama is set to announce
a White House shake up with the departure of one of his key advisors.

It's been one of Washington's worst-kept secrets that the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel,
has been considering leaving to run for mayor of Chicago.

The change comes just weeks before the mid-term elections, where Democrats are expected to fare
badly.

North America correspondent Lisa Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR, REPORTER: For the past two years, Rahm Emanuel has never been far from the president's
side.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The president starts his day with a meeting with Rahm and ends
it with a meeting with Rahm.

LISA MILLAR: Dubbed Rahmbo, he's been described as profane and pugnacious, even spoofed by Saturday
Night Live.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE FOOTAGE: Also you come after me on Facebook. What are you, 14? Here's a status
update - Grow the f--- up!

LISA MILLAR: But the 50-year-old was a powerful political player, even before he took on the job,
spending six years as a congressman.

ROBERT GIBBS: He has been the energetic, inspirational leader of us taking the president's promises
and agenda and enacting them into law.

LISA MILLAR: He even brought a touch of Hollywood to the White House.

His brother, an LA talent agent, was the inspiration for a character in the TV series 'Entourage'.

ARI EMANUEL (Jeremy Piven, 'Entourage'): Nice seeing everybody again.

LISA MILLAR: Both brothers are renowned for their determination.

And when the top job in Chicago became vacant, the speculation flew.

RAHM EMANUEL (Reading to children): 'He ran to the barn and found the animals registering to vote'.
It's obviously not in Chicago. 'Voter Registration...'

LISA MILLAR: He's never shied away from his high profile and his departure has been big news.

EJ DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: He's an incredibly colourful character, he uses colourful
language, including language that I could not use on your television network.

He reaches out a lot to the media, he's very media savvy. He will call Congress and reporters all
the time with ideas, with thoughts, with responses to stories. And he's had a very colourful
background.

LISA MILLAR: Rahm Emanuel might be a loss for the White House but Republicans won't be shedding any
tears.

JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: There's been no consultation, there's been no reaching out
from the White House. And if in fact there's going to be a new chief of staff at the White House I
would hope it would be someone who actually would consult with us.

LISA MILLAR: Pete Rouse, who's worked for Barack Obama for the past six years, will replace him.

ROBERT GIBBS: There is a complete loyalty and trust with somebody like Pete. There is ... Pete's
strategic sense has played a big part in the direction of virtually of every big decision that's
made inside of this White House.

LISA MILLAR: This isn't the first shake up at the White House.

Senior members of Obama's economic team are either leaving or have left.

And the defence secretary, Robert Gates, is expected to retire next year.

ROBERT GIBBS: I think two years in, if you look back historically, is a time in which people have
come into government service at the beginning of an administration and leave to go back to academia
or business or to retire to go into other pursuits. And I think it is in many ways the normal
rhythm of an administration to do.

EJ DIONNE: The potential gain is that Obama's at middling level in the polls, 45 per cent, he'd
probably would like to relaunch in certain ways and Emanuel leaving gives him that opportunity, if
he wants to take it.

LISA MILLAR: Rahm Emanuel's replacement won't face an easy task. The Democrats are bracing
themselves for heavy losses in next month's mid-term elections. And that could leave the new chief
of staff with the difficult task of trying to get the president's agenda through a hostile
congress.

Lisa Millar, Lateline.