Clinton approves of Obama's chief of staff

November 6, 2008 7:41:53 PM PST
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her first public appearance since one-time rival Barack Obama was elected president, praised his choice for White House chief of staff, a former top aide to Bill Clinton. "President-elect Obama made an excellent choice," she said of Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

She said Emanuel "understands both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue."

"He gets things done," she said at a news conference Thursday night before she and former President Clinton were honored at a gala at the newly refurbished Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. "Rahm is determined and effective."

She also called on Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, to resign after he was convicted of corruption charges.

The event at which the Clintons spoke kicked off the opening weekend of the Intrepid after a nearly two-year restoration. Next week, President Bush will deliver a Veterans Day address on the famed World War II aircraft carrier.

Clinton, D-N.Y., said she talked with Obama after his historic victory, which made the Illinois senator the first African-American elected to the White House, and promised to work with him as he faces challenging times taking office.

"I want to be a good partner with him in the Senate," said Clinton, his former rival for their party's presidential nomination. "The Senate is going to be the place that determines whether his agenda is successful. We are going to work together. We are going to work across the aisle."

Clinton said that Obama has to move quickly on national security and the economy. She said he was wise to begin preparing for his transition into the White House.

"I give him credit for being ahead of the curve," she said. "I think he'll put together a good team."

Asked if she would join an Obama administration, Clinton said: "I want to be the best senator I can be from New York."

Stevens, who has secured billions of dollars in federal funds for his state, was clinging to a narrow lead in a re-election bid after being found guilty of lying on Senate records to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in home renovations and gifts he received from a millionaire businessman. He is appealing and told voters he's not a convicted felon, at least not until the appeal process is over.

But Stevens, Clinton said, has to go.

"I think that he should step down, and I think that we may actually win that seat still," she said.

An exit poll and incomplete ballot results had the 40-year incumbent with a very slight lead - 3,363 votes - over Democratic rival Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage. More than 60,000 absentee and questioned ballots remained to be counted Thursday, so the outcome may be days in coming.

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