HONOLULU — President Barack Obama is considering naming former Commerce Secretary William Daley to a top White House job, possibly chief of staff, a person familiar with the matter said Monday. The development comes as Obama eyes a broader reorganization of his senior staff heading into the next phase of his presidency.
Daley, an executive at JPMorgan Chase, has extensive private sector experience, an attractive profile for a White House trying to counter the notion that the president is antibusiness. Obama aides have been discussing naming an executive to a top job as a way to give the business community more of a voice in the administration.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, resigned last year to run for Chicago mayor. The colorful and hard-edged Emanuel was replaced by interim chief of staff Pete Rouse, a low-key, behind the scenes troubleshooter who prefers to operate out of the spotlight.
Daley, 62, has spent decades quietly but successfully maneuvering the political landscape. While his brother, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, focused on local issues, William Daley has had one foot in Chicago and one in Washington.
With his ties to his family's powerful political dynasty, Daley would likely bring a broader public profile to the chief of staff job than the privacy-seeking Rouse. His appointment would also bring an outside voice into Obama's circle, and give the impression that Obama is willing to make changes following Democrats' sweeping defeats in the midterm elections.
Other changes are expected to unfold soon. Rouse has been heading a staff review that is expected to lead to some shake-ups in the West Wing.
David Plouffe, the architect of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, is expected to be in the White House as soon as next week as an adviser to the president. One of the president's most trusted advisers, David Axelrod, is leaving this month; he is expected to take a break and recharge for a central role in the 2012 re-election campaign.
Obama has been reviewing Rouse's report during his Hawaiian vacation, and a new-look White House structure of people and portfolios is expected to unfold over the coming weeks.
It was thought that Rouse would stay on at least until the reorganization review was complete, along with the president's State of the Union address in late January and the release of Obama's budget proposal in February. But beyond that, Rouse has never relished the high-profile job as the top White House manager. Those close to Obama say top aides are generally being asked to make their intentions known now if they want to change or leaves jobs – or be prepared to stay on for the rest of the term – so there is stability as Obama heads into his re-election bid.
Daley made his name in politics as a special counsel to then-President Bill Clinton, coordinating the successful campaign to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement and then serving as Clinton's commerce secretary. Later, he ran Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign and the historic recount effort that ended with Gore conceding the race to George W. Bush.
Daley went into business after that race, and is now Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase. He has often been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor or senator in Illinois but never actually jumped in.
When Obama launched his presidential campaign, the Daley family put aside its deep connections to Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and endorsed the young Illinois senator. Until then, Obama and the Daleys had largely operated separately in Illinois politics – not helping each other much but not attacking either.
After Obama's victory, Daley helped oversee the presidential transition.
Daley's consideration was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Associated Press writers Ben Feller in Washington and Christopher Wills in Springfield, Ill., contributed to this report.