William M. Daley, the former Commerce secretary and early adviser to President Obama's campaign, has emerged as a serious contender to become Obama's next chief of staff, a White House official said Monday. The official said that Obama spoke twice with Daley in December: once on the telephone and once during a face-to-face meeting that went unnoticed.
The White House was at first reluctant to confirm the news that Obama was considering Daley after it was first reported by Bloomberg. But later, one official who initially declined to speculate about personnel matters said that staffers have been told that Daley is among several potential candidates for the job. Pete Rouse, the current chief of staff, has made it clear that he does not want the job for too much longer, although he intends to stay if Obama so decides.
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The official said that a small team supervised by Rouse was vetting several candidates for the job. Daley, who spends his days in a picturesque corner office in downtown Chicago as J.P. Morgan's Midwest chair, is close to several members of Obama's inner circle, including his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who departed the job to run for the mayoralty vacated by Daley's brother Richard.