Pete Rouse is quiet fixer

  • September 30, 2010 - 10:51 PM


White House senior adviser Pete Rouse has been at the president's side since Barack Obama arrived in Washington nearly six years ago as a senator, serving as his chief of staff, then as co-chairman of Obama's transition team.

He is considered the anti-Rahm. If Rahm Emanuel, the colorful, profane, in-your-face White House chief of staff, has loomed large over Washington politics, Rouse, whom President Obama has chosen as Emanuel's temporary replacement, does his best to loom small. The high-octane Emanuel bullies; Rouse, low-key and lumbering, cajoles.

Rouse operates as Obama's fixer. "He puts fires out," said Tom Daschle, who employed Rouse as a chief of staff when he was the Senate Democratic leader. "He's the primary personnel negotiator. There's constant friction, and he reduces the friction. There's a constant need for somebody to do something for which there is no job description. He is that person."

When Obama's plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, set off an uproar on the left, he installed Rouse to oversee the policy. In the months since, the furor seems to have evaporated.

When Republicans rose up against the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to oversee a new consumer protection agency, Rouse helped devise a strategy to make her a top-level adviser, which needed no Senate confirmation.

He is respected in the West Wing and on Capitol Hill, where he was known as the "101st Senator" in his role as an adviser to Daschle.

When Daschle was defeated in 2004, the year Obama was elected, Obama aggressively recruited Rouse to take a demotion and run his new Senate office. At first, Rouse refused, but eventually he came on board.


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