Obama’s Chief of Staff may depart White House

President Barack Obama’s bruising Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is close to deciding whether to leave and run for mayor of Chicago and a decision could be announced as soon as Friday, a source said.

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The feared political enforcer has made no secret of the fact that the post of Chicago mayor is his dream job, and speculation has been rife he would leave Obama’s inner circle to launch a campaign.

“Rahm is nearing a decision on whether to leave the White House and explore a run for mayor of Chicago,” a source close to Emanuel said, adding that an announcement could come by the end of this week.

“Because of family considerations, no final decision has been made,” the source added, on condition of anonymity.

If Emanuel does leave, he would become the latest top White House official to head to the exit, ahead of an expected rebuke from voters for Obama’s Democrats in the mid-term congressional polls in November.

Such staff shake-ups are common in presidential administrations, where long hours and seven-day weeks under intense pressure are the norm, and job tenure is often around two years.

The office of chief of staff is vital in any White House, with the holder responsible for controlling access to the president and involved in all aspects of the administration’s activities.

Emanuel’s rare chance to run for mayor of his hometown opened up when Mayor Richard Daley, part of a famed Chicago political dynasty, announced he would not run for a seventh term in early 2011.

Earlier, in an interview with the NBC Today Show, Obama said that he thought Emanuel would have to make a decision quickly because running for mayor of Chicago was a “serious enterprise.”

“I have said I think he would be an excellent mayor, but until he makes a decision, I’m not going to be making decisions about how I’m going to approach it.”


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