Quit as WH Chief of Staff? History's on Rahm's side

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel isn't saying much about his future at the White House, but history is on his side if he decides to jump ship soon. He even got the blessing of his boss if he decides to run for mayor of Chicago. "I think he'd be a terrific mayor, President Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview that aired Thursday. "My expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had more supportive words about a possible Emanuel bid for mayor. "Something like that doesn't come around a lot," said Gibbs on Wednesday. "It's no surprise that's a job he's been interested in."

While an Emanuel departure would shake up the West Wing, it is not rare for a chief of staff to move on after a few years. A little less than 2.5 years is an average term-of-service for a White House Chief of Staff. The last chief of staff to serve for an entire presidential administration was John R. Steelman under Harry S. Truman.

Historically many White House Chiefs of Staff are former politicians and continue their political careers after leaving the job. Richard Nixon's Chief of Staff, Alexander Haig, because Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan. Gerald Ford's Chief of Staff, Dick Cheney, become a U.S. Representative for Wyoming and later Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush and Vice President under George W. Bush.

Emanuel has already served in Congress, for six years. There are many reasons why mayor of Chicago could be a dream job for him. He was born and raised in Chicago. If he won (not a sure thing) Emanuel would replace one of the most influential mayor's in the country, Richard M. Daley, who's held the job since 1989. Daley announced this week he wouldn't be seeking re-election.

The timing of Emanuel's decision to chuck the White House for City Hall is a little tricky. The midterm elections are just weeks away. The Obama White House and Democrats have much at stake. Polls show Republicans could take control of the House. "I think people are way ahead of themselves," cautioned David Axelrod on Fox News. "He hasn't even suggested leaving yet." Emanuel knows he'll need to decide soon.

The filing deadline for the Chicago mayoral race is in November.


Associted Press