Tom Donilon: Rahm Emanuel's Likely Replacement As White House Chief Of Staff?

09/08/2010 10:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In the wake of speculation that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel could step down from his post to run for Mayor of Chicago, Politico reports that according to Democratic insiders, Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is the leading candidate for President Obama to appoint as a replacement should Emanuel resign.

HuffPost's Jen Sabella relays the background:

Even before the shock of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's announcement that he would not be seeking another term wore off -- many people turned their attention to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel, who was born in Chicago and represented Illinois' 5th congressional district until he joined the Obama administration, has been open about his desire to become mayor of Chicago since early this year. His connections to the position held by Daley for 21 years also run deep -- he served as finance chairman of Daley's first mayoral campaign in 1989.

Despite the close relationship, Emanuel said he was "surprised" by Daley's announcement on Tuesday.

Politico reports:

Perhaps the most likely candidate is Tom Donilon, a deputy national security adviser, whose political experience goes back to the Carter-Mondale campaign. Donilon earned his chops in government as the first assistant secretary of State for public affairs under President Bill Clinton. Donilon's wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden.

Another possible prospect is Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, who has served in string of sensitive positions, including chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore chief of staff during the 1996 reelection campaign.

White House Senior David Axelrod signaled to Ann Compton at ABC News on Wednesday morning that should Emanuel resign and pursue a campaign to succeed Daley as Chicago Mayor, the president will stand behind his decision.

"The mayoralty in Chicago is an unbelievealy attractive opportunity," explained Axelord. "And I'm sure if Rahm decides to do that, the President will support that decision."

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