Few people outside Washington, and not many inside, have heard the name Pete Rouse. The man President Obama will name as his interim White House chief of staff on Friday is a quiet political player who avoids the spotlight. He does not suit up for the Sunday talk shows; there are no stories about him reducing staff members to tears for their slip-ups.
He is in many ways the opposite of Rahm Emanuel, the brash chief of staff he will replace.
While Emanuel spent nearly two years as a prominent public face of the Obama administration, Rouse sat just around the corner in the West Wing, fixing problems. A trusted adviser dating back to Obama’s first days in the Senate, Rouse helped guide Obama’s Washington rise. Obama once described Rouse as “completely ego-free.”
Rouse, 64, will take the helm at a difficult moment. He will inherit a White House in flux, as the first wave of senior advisers is leaving. And with a sagging economy, tepid poll numbers and November’s midterm elections all weighing on the White House, Rouse must help devise a new direction for the administration – while wrestling the competing factions that tug at any president.