Washington: The White House lavished praise on the leadership of hard-charging chief of staff Rahm Emanuel on Thursday, on the eve of his planned departure to run for mayor of Chicago.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs would not officially confirm fresh reports on the timing of Emanuel`s departure but said President Barack Obama had scheduled a personnel announcement for Friday in the East Room of the White House.
There have been hints for days that Emanuel will be leaving to campaign for his dream job running his home city, and that Pete Rouse, a key Obama advisor will replace him in the key post on a temporary basis.
Emanuel, Obama`s political enforcer, has been intimately involved in every aspect of the administration, from his Afghan troop surge to his landmark health reform, and his departure will change the complexion of Obama`s staff.
"There is not an important thing that has happened in this administration that we`ve been able to accomplish for the American people that has not involved heavily his signature," said Gibbs.
"The title `chief of staff` in many ways, says it all. He has been the energetic, inspirational leader of us, taking the President`s promises and agenda and enacting them into law."
Emanuel, a profane, hard-knuckled Washington operative will become the latest top White House official to leave, ahead of an expected rebuke from voters for Obama`s Democrats in the congressional polls in November.
Such staff shake-ups are common in presidential administrations, where long hours and seven-day weeks under intense pressure are the norm, and job tenure is often around two years.
The office of chief of staff is vital in any White House, with the holder responsible for controlling access to the president and involved in all aspects of the administration`s activities.
Emanuel`s rare chance to run for mayor of his hometown opened up when Mayor Richard Daley, part of a famed Chicago political dynasty, announced he would not run for a seventh term in early 2011.
On Monday, in an interview with the NBC Today Show, Obama said that he thought Emanuel would have to make a decision quickly because running for mayor of Chicago was a "serious enterprise”.
"I have said I think he would be an excellent mayor, but until he makes a decision, I`m not going to be making decisions about how I`m going to approach it."