THE PRESIDENT: Please have a seat, everybody. Happy New Year. Last October, when my former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel departed to pursue other opportunities in Chicago, I asked Pete Rouse, one of my most trusted aides, to step into the breach and lead us through a very difficult time. And I also asked Pete to help us think about how the White House should be structured and run over the next two years.
Thanks in no small part to his efforts, a period that everybody thought would be one of retrenchment turned out to be one of great progress for our country. And Pete's leadership is all the more remarkable when you consider that when I first met him and asked him to lead my Senate staff, he told me in that gruff voice of his that his strong inclination was to leave government. (Laughter and applause.) The reason everybody is applauding is because they've heard him say that every day -- (laughter) -- they've heard him say that every day for the last six years. And yet, each time I've asked him to accept one more assignment, he's saddled up and he's taken the job. And it's fair to say that I would not be where I am today without his extraordinary counsel.
Pete didn't volunteer to serve as interim Chief of Staff. He made it clear that that was not his preference. But he accepted the responsibility, and as he oversaw our strategy during the lame duck session of Congress, he also was working to develop a structure and a plan for the next two years that I believe will serve the White House, and more importantly the American people, very well. One of those assignments was providing me recommendations for candidates to serve as Chief of Staff moving forward.
As part of that process, today I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley, to serve as my Chief of Staff. (Applause.)
Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton's Cabinet as Commerce Secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country. He's led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait. (Laughter.)
But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people. He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values and forward-looking vision to this White House. I'm convinced that he'll 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.
Before I ask Bill to say a few words, I should also confess that I have prevailed once again on Pete's sense of duty -- or sense of guilt, I'm not sure which -- and I'm grateful that he has agreed to one more tour of duty as my counselor for the next two years. (Applause.)
As you might have noticed, people like Pete. (Laughter.) He is a unique and indispensable asset to me and to this administration. I cannot imagine life here without him, and I told him so. And I'm delighted that we're able to keep him a little bit longer.
I'll be making further announcements in the days and weeks ahead, and I am absolutely confident that we will have a great team that's equal to America's task in the years to come. But with that, what I'd like to do is to introduce my new Chief of Staff, Bill Daley. (Applause.)
MR. DALEY: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. You have honored me and my family by giving me an opportunity to serve you and to serve our nation.
Fifty years ago this month I visited the White House with my parents and my brothers and sisters to visit a young President who went on to show great strength, leadership and vision in the face of enormous challenges in those times.
You, Mr. President, are proving your strength, your leadership, your vision during a most difficult time for our nation and for the world. You have also shown through your example that public service is an honorable calling, and I am pleased to answer your call.
I look forward to working with the wonderful staff which you have assembled, and I know my job will be made easier by the great work and direction of Pete Rouse, the direction and great work he has provided over these past couple of months, and the President talked about the enormous successes under Pete's watch.
Pete, too, has dedicated his life to public service and to our nation, and I'm grateful for his efforts, and I am proud to call him my colleague. I assure you, Mr. President, as they have done in the last two years, that this team will not let you down, nor the nation.
Thank you very much for this extreme honor. (Applause.)