Politics

Daley Steps Down From Chief Of Staff Post

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White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is stepping down. He's held the position for about a year. Jack Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget will replace Daley. Melissa Block talks to NPR's Scott Horsley for more.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block and we begin this year with a welcome. For the next year, Audie Cornish, host of WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY, will help host ALL THINGS CONSIDERED and today is her first day with us. It's great to have you here, Audie.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Happy to be with you, Melissa.

BLOCK: And we follow that hello with news today of a goodbye. White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is stepping down after just a year on the job. He plans to return to Chicago. Taking over is White House Budget Director Jack Lew. The personnel move comes as President Obama prepares for a challenging reelection campaign. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now from the White House. And Scott, a quick reminder here, it was another campaign that led to Bill Daley taking over as chief of staff in the first place.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Well, that's right, two elections, Melissa. Rahm Emmanuel, who had been Chief of Staff left to run for mayor of Chicago and then there was the midterm congressional elections that the president got that shellacking in. Daley was brought in to help kind of mend fences with the business community and reach out to independent voters. The president said this afternoon, it was a pretty tumultuous year.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We were thinking back just a year ago this weekend. Before he was even named for the job, Bill was in the situation room getting updates on the shooting in Tucson. On his very first day, Bill took part in a meeting where we discussed Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. This was all before he even had time to unpack his office.

BLOCK: And Scott, the White House is saying that this came as a surprise to the president with Bill Daley leaving after just a year. Why so soon?

HORSLEY: Well, you know, he never really did unpack his office. It turned out not to be a great fit for this job. In fact, late last year, the White House went through a mini reorganization and Pete Rouse, the president's long time advisor, took over some of the day to day responsibilities for Bill Daley. That was kind of the writing on the wall. That outreach to the business community never really paid off. Relations with Congress have been sour.

Daley's resignation letter was actually dated January 3rd, but the president asked him to think it over for a few days. Daley said after spending some time with his family over the holidays, he decided he wanted to be back in Chicago. And the president said he understands, that they both love that city, but he promised to keep calling on Daley there by telephone for his counsel.

BLOCK: Now, we mentioned that Jack Lew will be taking over as chief of staff. Let's listen to the president today talking about the job that Jack Lew has done as White House budget director.

OBAMA: Jack's economic advice has been invaluable and he has my complete trust, both because of his mastery of the numbers, but because of the values behind those numbers.

BLOCK: And Jack Lew also has quite a bit of experience on Capitol Hill. Scott, tell us more about him.

HORSLEY: That's right. He began his career in public office as a staffer to Tip O'Neill, the famous House speaker, back when O'Neill was brokering deals with Ronald Reagan. I've heard Jack Lew speak nostalgically about that very different time in relations here in Washington. He was a big participant during the summer in the talks over the debt ceiling and, of course, as head of the Office of Management and Budget, he's been instrumental in preparing the president's new budget.

He is viewed, I think, on Capitol Hill as a straight-shooter, as someone they can do business with. And the president has said he wants to do business and get things done with lawmakers this year, even though he's been sort of campaigning against a do-nothing Congress. That said, times are very different now than when Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan were fighting hard during the work day and then swapping Irish stories after quitting time.

BLOCK: Okay. NPR's Scott Horsley, again, with the news that Bill Daley is stepping down as White House chief of staff. Scott, thanks very much.

HORSLEY: My pleasure.

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