Two White House ex-chiefs of staff praise Emanuel

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Washington, Nov.8 : Two former White House chiefs of staff have praised President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel for the same job.

Ken Duberstein, the former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and Leon Panetta, the former California congressman who held the post in the Clinton White House, said Emanuel's appointment suggested that Obama was serious about getting results from his administration.

"Rahm is exceptionally well-qualified for that job," Politico quoted Duberstein, as saying while lauding Obama for choosing a chief of staff so early in the transition process.

"It sends a message here and abroad that this president-elect is all about governing and not campaigning," he added.

Panetta, who worked closely with Emanuel in the Clinton administration, shared that assessment, saying Emanuel "knows the White House inside out, and obviously now knows Capitol Hill."

Panetta recognized Emanuel's reputation for abrasiveness, but presented it as a potential asset to the nascent Obama administration.

"As I told the president-elect - and have told others - part of the job description is that you have to be an SOB as chief of staff. You've got to have somebody who makes the tough decisions," Panetta said. "He's the guy to do that in the administration."

Emanuel's appointment drew fire from Republicans Thursday, with some of the Chicago congressman's GOP colleagues painting him as a partisan gunslinger.

Panetta dismissed the suggestion that Emanuel was too partisan to serve effectively in the White House.

Duberstein even suggested Emanuel's toughest task might be restraining fellow Democrats, rather than fighting with Republicans.

"His challenge will be, with the president, reaching out and building coalitions on the Hill, saying no to some of the president-elect's most important constituencies," Duberstein said.

Both men reflected on their White House experiences to offer advice to the president-elect, emphasizing the importance of focusing his agenda and not trying to accomplish too much at once.

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