President Barack Obama has announced his selection of William Daley, a bank executive and former commerce secretary with strong business ties, as his new chief of staff. The appointment comes as Mr. Obama prepares for what he has said will be tough battles ahead with resurgent Republicans, and amid efforts to improve relations with the U.S. business community.
A member of the powerful Daley political family from Chicago, William Daley was Secretary of Commerce under the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and was chairman of former vice president Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.
Currently a J.P. Morgan executive, he is expected to be a forceful presence in a White House having to adjust tactics in the wake of November's mid-term congressional elections, in which American voters handed Republicans control of the House of Representatives.
With Mr. Daley at his side in the White House East Room, President Obama praised him as an experienced public servant with the background and abilities to get the job done.
"He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values and forward looking vision to this White House," said President Obama. "I am convinced he will help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward and I very much look forward to working with Bill in the years to come."
Seen as a ideological centrist, Daley brings strong political and business credentials to the White House. In a brief statement he said he looked forward to working with Mr. Obama.
"You, Mr. President have proven your strength, your leadership, your vision during a most difficult time for our nation and for the world," said William Daley.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement hailing Daley as "man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations, and global affairs."
The White House announced this week that President Obama will finally take up a longstanding offer to address the powerful business group on February 7.
Daley's record has generated concern from some critics on the left of the Democratic party who suggest he will tilt the White House agenda in favor of big business.
In a commentary in The Washington Post last year, he asserted that a majority of Americans did not support the agenda pursued by the most liberal Democrats, and suggested the the party move to the political center to achieve "pragmatic change."
Daley opposed President Obama's strong push in the first year of his administration for health care reform, and was part of lobbying against a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a key part of sweeping financial reforms.
The appointment brought criticism from the Republican National Committee. The RNC issued a statement citing - among other things - his service on the board of Fannie Mae, the company that was part of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Daley replaces Pete Rouse, the acting chief of staff who followed the first man to serve the president in the job, Rahm Emanuel, who left to pursue a run for mayor of Chicago. Rouse remains as an advisor.
The White House staff is in a period of transition as President Obama moves his administration into a new phase. Among other things, he faces the reality of resurgent Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have vowed to roll back his major health care reform law.
Two key advisers, David Axelrod and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, are leaving and will continue to advise Mr. Obama and help with his 2012 re-election campaign. On Friday, the president will announce a new chairman of his economic council, expected to be Gene Sperling, replacing Larry Summers.
In addition, news reports say Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is expected to step down as head of a panel that President Obama created in 2009 to advise him on economic issues after the U.S. financial crisis.