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President Obama on Thursday named "fellow Chicagoan" William Daley as his next chief of staff, voicing confidence that the banking executive and former U.S. commerce secretary could help his White House team turn the economy around.
The president described Daley, who is the brother of the outgoing Chicago mayor, as an experienced public servant during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
"Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience Bill Daley brings to this job," Obama said.
"This team will not let you down," Daley pledged as he accepted the position.
The selection of Daley, currently a banking executive for JPMorgan Chase, earned the president early praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group with which the president is trying to mend fences after a rocky two years.
But it also earned Obama early scorn from the liberal base. Justin Ruben, director of MoveOn.org, released a statement saying Daley would have to prove he's not "carrying water in the White House for the big banks that took our economy over the cliff." Ruben said Daley's close ties to big banks sends "the wrong message to the American people."
Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, echoed that point, claiming the president's selection proves the administration is "drawing exactly the wrong lessons from the 2010 elections."
The announcement Thursday was part of a series of top-level changes at the White House. As part of the shift, Obama on Thursday promoted his interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, to the position of "counselor to the president." Rouse, who did not want to stay in the White House chief of staff post, had recommended Daley for the position.
The chief of staff is considered one of the most important and influential jobs in American government. It will now go to a man who comes from arguably the most important political dynasty in Chicago politics. Daley is the son of the late Richard J. Daley, longtime Chicago mayor and political boss, and the brother of Richard M. Daley, the outgoing Chicago mayor.
Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel left the position in the Obama administration to run for Chicago mayor. With Daley, another Chicago politico will step in to replace him.
Though Daley comes from Obama's hometown, he and the president have not been personally close. But he offers criteria Obama wants: an outsider's perspective, credibility with the business community and experience in navigating divided government.
Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released a statement Thursday calling Daley "an accomplished manager and strong leader."
"This is a strong appointment," said Donohue, who has frequently been at odds with the White House over the past two years. Obama plans to address the Chamber of Commerce next month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.