William Daley Reportedly Eyed For White House Post

President Obama is reportedly considering former Commerce Secretary William Daley for a position in the West Wing — possibly chief of staff. That would signal the administration's intent to court moderate voters and the business community.

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There will also be some new faces in the White House, and some that are not so new to Washington. Former Commerce Secretary William Daley has reportedly spoken with President Obama about a job in the West Wing. No decision has been announced yet, but Daley could end up replacing his fellow Chicagoan, Rahm Emanuel, as White House chief of staff.

NPR's Scott Horsley reports on what kind of signal that might send.

SCOTT HORSLEY: More than a year ago, William Daley wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post arguing Democrats need to steer a more moderate course to win back Independent voters. Otherwise, he wrote, the November midterms would be just the beginning of their losses.

Daley, who was commerce secretary under President Clinton, is on the board of a Washington think tank called Third Way, that advocates for centrist policies. Third Way president Jonathan Cowan thinks Daley would bring that same moderate mindset to a new job in the White House.

Mr. JONATHAN COWAN (President, Third Way): The signal that you'd be sending to the country is we're ready to win back over the center. The policy signal that you'd be sending to Congress is we're willing to work with you to advance a moderate bipartisan agenda.

HORSLEY: Cowan, says Daley, who now works as an investment banker, would also help to mend frayed ties between the White House and the business community. Liberals are not exactly eager to see a more pro-business tilt, nor another banker on the government's payroll.

But the president doesn't seem too worried about courting his liberal base. Consider Gene Sperling, one of the leading candidates to replace Larry Summers as a top economic adviser to the president. Sperling, like Daley, is a veteran of the Clinton administration and an advocate for free trade. He wrote a book arguing progressive goals could be served with market forces, reasoning he explained in 2006 talk at Google.

Mr. GENE SPERLING (Former Adviser, Clinton Administration): I thought there was a dearth of people who accepted the inevitability of globalization, the inevitability and power of markets, and yet who still believe there was a role for government to make sure that a rising tide was lifting all boats.

HORSLEY: Neither Sperling nor Daley would be likely to rock the boat the way an outsider would. Nor would they alter Mr. Obama's reputation, for better or worse, of relying on a few familiar aides. Sperling's already working in the Treasury Department as a counselor to Secretary Geithner. Daley was an economic adviser to Mr. Obama's presidential campaign and he helped run his transition team two years ago.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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