Bill Daley, the former Clinton aide brought on ten months ago to help the Obama administration find its footing, has been demoted from his position as White House Chief of Staff, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Longtime Obama aide Pete Rouse will replace Daley in his day-to-day management responsibilities. White House aides tell the Journal that while Daley’s new role is not yet fully defined, he will be expected to concentrate more on reaching out to outside power brokers.
It is, the paper notes, unusual for a Chief of Staff to relinquish responsibilities.
Congressional Democrats had criticized Daley, a former commerce secretary under President Clinton, for what some described as his imperfect understanding of the legislative branch, and his tense relationship with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This stood in marked contrast to his predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, a former Democratic congressman who is now Mayor of Chicago.
“Rahm Emanuel was not only a creature of the House, he knew many of the senators,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin told The Huffington Post in September. “Bill Daley does not have that depth of relationship coming in.”
One senior Democratic aide was more blunt, saying that the party’s congressional leadership had “basically come to the conclusion that he’s not up to the job and doesn’t really get how Congress works. At all.”
According to the Journal, Daley expects to stay at the White House through the 2012 elections. Administration officials have denied that the change in Daley’s role is a demotion.