Obama prepares White House transition

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Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., accepted Obama's offer to become his chief of staff. The veteran of the Clinton White House initially expressed reservations about the job, citing his young children as a consideration. But this morning he called Obama to tell him he would accept. Emanuel got voice mail, assumed Obama was at the gym, and left a message. Obama soon called him back and the rest is history.

"I know what a privilege it is to serve in the White House, and am humbled by the responsibility we owe the American people," Emanuel said in a statement. "I'm leaving a job I love to join your White House for one simple reason: Like the record amount of voters who cast their ballot over the last month, I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs. We have work to do, and Tuesday Americans sent Washington a clear message -- get the job done."

The appointment of the sharp-tongued congressman known for his take-no-prisoner style prompted criticism from some Republicans.

House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio issued a statement saying Emanuel "is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center."

Obama's campaign strategist, David Axelrod, will almost certainly be appointed a White House senior adviser, and Robert Gibbs, another one of Obama's top aides, is likely to come on board as a White House press secretary.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a member of the Obama transition team's advisory board, said Obama's group was working hard to ensure that "things don't fall through the cracks."

"As you look at security issues, as you look at economic issues and the like, that information is already being exchanged," she told reporters today. "So as one team leaves the other can move in"

In that spirit, at the FBI's chicago field office, today Obama had his first intelligence briefing. The director of national intelligence and CIA officials briefed him on Iraq, Iran and al Qaeda, among other issues.

He also spoke on the phone with nine world leaders, including a conversation with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on reforming the global financial system.

On Friday, Obama is expected to meet with his "transition economic advisory board," which includes business leaders like Warren Buffet, Richard Parsons, Time Warner's board chairman, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, and political leaders such as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, will meet with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush on Monday to discuss the transition.

In an emotional speech on the White House lawn, President Bush also pledged his cooperation with the transition team.

"Earlier this year, I promised that I would sprint to the finish," he said. "I am keeping that promise. And I know I have given some of you a good workout along the way. As we head into the final stretch, I ask you to remain focused on the goals ahead. I will be honored to stand with you at the finish line."

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