With his history-making election behind him, President-elect Barack Obama was moving ahead with his transition on Wednesday as he prepared to confront the daunting challenges that he will have to face as president in just 76 days, amid two wars and the gravest economic crisis to afflict the country since the Great Depression.
Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and a close friend of Mr. Obama, has been offered the post of White House chief of staff and is expected to accept, according to Democrats familiar with the process.
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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Mr. Obama announced in a written statement the three co-chairs of his transition team on Wednesday — John D. Podesta, a former Clinton chief of staff; Valerie Jarrett, a longtime Obama adviser; and Pete Rouse, Mr. Obama’s Senate chief of staff.
After getting in a morning workout, Mr. Obama arrived on Wednesday afternoon at an office building in downtown Chicago for what aides said would be five hours worth of meetings and calls with officials helping to guide his transition, as well as conversations with people he is considering for his cabinet.
Mr. Emanuel, who as chairman of the Democratic caucus is the fourth-ranking House member, has told associates that he was leaning toward stepping down from his position to join Mr. Obama’s team. But aides said an agreement was not yet final, and no announcements were scheduled for Wednesday.
Mr. Emanuel has a reputation as a hard-nosed political operator, who would bring extensive legislative experience and veteran instincts for how to get things done in the White House, but his brash partisan past could run afoul of Mr. Obama’s promises to be a mediator in Washington.
Mr. Obama is expected to remain in Chicago, where he is basing his transition, at least until the end of the week. Campaign workers at his Chicago headquarters were told to take the morning off and not to show up until noon. Many are scrambling to sort out their own futures, hoping for roles in the new administration.
A slew of people were named Wednesday to serve on an advisory board for Mr. Obama’s transition, including William Daley, a former secretary of commerce; Michael Froman, an executive at Citigroup, former treasury department official and former classmate of Mr. Obama’s at Harvard Law School; Julius Genachowski, another former law school classmate, former chief counsel to the Federal Communications Communications and one of the Obama campaign’s biggest fund-raisers; and Susan E. Rice, a former Clinton administration official and senior foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign.
Chris Lu, Mr. Obama’s legislative director in the Senate, was named executive director of the transition team.
President Bush offered his congratulations to Mr. Obama in public remarks on Wednesday morning, and pledged to cooperate fully and keep the President-elect informed of important decisions.
“No matter how they cast their ballots, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday,” President Bush said. “They showed a watching world the vitality of American democracy and the strides that have been made toward a more perfect union.”
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