Overhauling his team at the top, President Obama on Thursday named banker and seasoned political fighter William Daley as his new chief of staff, hoping to rejuvenate a White House storming into re-election mode and an economy still gasping for help.
The choice of Daley immediately brought howls of protest from the left flank of the Democratic Party, where advocates questioned his insider ties to Wall Street. Centrists, business leaders and Republican lawmakers rallied around the appointment.
Obama, whose hopes for a second term will be shaped largely by how the economy does, immediately linked Daley's appointment to that task.
"I'm convinced that he'll help us in our mission of growing our economy," Obama said in a White House ceremony.
Daley, 62, a fellow Chicagoan and former Cabinet secretary who has run both companies and campaigns, stood on one side of the president. On the other side was Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff who oversaw a busy three months but did not want to stay in the job.
"This team will not let you down, nor the nation," Daley told Obama.
As the new Republican majority in the House exerts its power, Obama has been resetting his team, with one eye on governing and the other on getting re-elected. After two years on the job, on top of two nonstop years of campaigning, some of Obama's most senior advisers are leaving.
The president is losing his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, and his trusted strategist, David Axelrod; he is bringing in former campaign chief David Plouffe as a top staff adviser starting Monday. All three of them will end up playing vital roles in Obama's 2012 election campaign, just as they did last time. Today, Obama is expected to name Gene Sperling as his chief economic adviser.
The chief of staff is the one charged with shaping Obama's time while managing a mammoth juggle of issues, crises, opinions and egos.
On Capitol Hill, the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, called Daley's business experience a hopeful sign.