Obama Selects Emanuel as His New Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama chose Representative Rahm Emanuel, a fellow Chicago politician, to be his White House chief of staff, his first selection for the new administration, Democratic officials said Wednesday.

If Emanuel accepts, he would return to the White House where he served as a political and policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. Emanuel is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives as the Democratic caucus chair.

Several Democrats also said Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the party's 2004 presidential nominee, was actively seeking appointment as secretary of state in the new administration.

Two campaign officials said the appointment of a chief of staff was not expected for at least a day.

Instead, they said Obama would issue a written statement announcing that his transition team would be headed by John Podesta, who served as chief of staff under Clinton; Pete Rouse, who has been Obama's chief of staff in the Senate; and Valerie Jarrett, a friend of the president-elect and campaign adviser.

The officials who described the developments did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss events not yet announced.

On the day after Obama's election, several prominent Democrats spoke of uncertainty about the extent to which lobbyists would be invited to work in the new administration. As a candidate, Obama frequently said lobbyists would not run his White House.

That left unclear whether they would be permitted to serve, and if so, in what posts and under what conditions.

Obama has 10 weeks to build a new administration. But his status as an incumbent member of Congress presents issues unseen since 1960, when Democrat John F. Kennedy moved from the Senate to the White House.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a post-election session in two weeks, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference Wednesday to reinforce her call for quick action on a bill to stimulate the economy.

That places Obama in uncharted territory -- a president-elect, presumably first among equals with congressional Democrats. Yet, until Inauguration Day, his and their ability to enact legislation depends almost entirely on President George W. Bush's willingness to sign it.

In a congratulatory call to Obama, Bush pledged to make a smooth transition and invited the Obama family to visit the White House soon.