The worst-kept secret in town becomes official today as Rahm Emanuel, the president's chief of staff, announces he leaving the White House to take a run at his dream job - mayor of Chicago.
Emanuel already has a campaign manager, CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder reported, and is expected to return to Chicago immediately to begin collecting signatures to get his name on the ballot.
Later this morning, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Bill Plante, Emanuel will get an East Room sendoff from President Obama, who will also welcome Emanuel's temporary replacement, senior adviser Pete Rouse.
Emanuel, 50, a former congressman from Illinois, is famously combative. He told Kate Couric on "60 Minutes" that he ignored criticism of his abrasive approach:
"What I do is I focus on getting what the president needs done on any given day," he told Couric. "If all I did was pay attention to the critics, I wouldn`t have taken this job since a lot of people thought it was crazy."
Presidential counselor David Axelrod says Emanuel will be missed: "No one can replace Rahm Emanuel who is sui generis. I've know him since he was 20 years old and he is a force of nature."
But the president will announce a new temporary chief of staff today - Pete Rouse, now a White House counselor, but formerly chief of staff for Mr. Obama in the senate.
"There's a complete loyalty and trust with somebody like Pete," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "Pete's strategic sense has played a big part in the direction of virtually every big decision made inside of this White House."
Among the contenders for the permanent position: Rouse; deputy national security adviser Tom Donilon and Ron Klain, Vice President Biden's chief of staff - all far lower-key than Rahm Emanuel.
Rouse in particular is the polar opposite of Emanuel, Plante said - calm, quiet and reserved. Before working in the Obama White House, Rouse, 64, was chief of staff for former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle.
The president probably isn't going to make a decision on a permanent replacement until after the election, Plante said. He may decide he wants an outsider rather than insider like some of those just mentioned.
Emanuel's predecessor, Andy Card, who served as President George W. Bush's chief of staff for five years - the longest stretch for any chief of staff since the 1950s - said today that the most important function of a White House chief of staff is to help the president do his job.
"And, being very candid with him - if the emperor has no clothes on, tell him he's naked!" Card said on CBS' "The Early Show." "But really, the job of the chief of staff is to make sure the president has all of the tools necessary to do his job, including being responsible for making sure his state of mind is right. So, it's not just about the policy or the performance, it's also about taking care of the psychology."
Card said it was a bigger job than serving an individual: "You are also serving the institution of the presidency. There is a great tendency to want to make an easy decision for the president but it's the wrong decision for the country - or for the presidency, Article II. And so, you have to step back. Chiefs of staff have to have peripheral vision; Most of the people who work at the White House have tunnel vision.
"Everyone lobbies the chief of staff - staffers, people outside, inside," Card said. "Even sometimes the president will want to do things the president shouldn't and it's the chief of staff's job to say, 'I know you want to do it, but you can't do it now.'"
"When you say that," asked anchor Harry Smith, "how does a president normally respond?"
"With disdain!" he laughed.
"I actually compliment Rahm Emanuel on how he did the job," Card said. "I don't agree with his politics, I don't agree with his philosophy, I didn't agree with the policy, but I think he did serve President Obama very well and helped President Obama accomplish what he wanted to do."