Obama leaves Senate, names more aides

November 16, 2008 6:05:57 AM PST
As Barack Obama bid farewell to the Senate, the president-elect kept his attention on building a White House team, announcing the hiring Sunday of more key personnel. Obama, who resigned his Senate seat Sunday, said in a letter published in Illinois newspapers that he was "ending one journey to begin another. ... But I will never forget and will be forever grateful to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible."

Shifting to assembling his staff, Obama added veterans from his campaign and Senate office to his incoming White House operations: -senior adviser Pete Rouse. He was Obama's Senate chief of staff, a post he also held while working for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

-Mona Sutphen, deputy chief of staff. A member of Obama's transition team staff, she has been managing director of Stonebridge International, a strategic consulting firm based in Washington. The chief of staff is Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill. Sutphen also was a foreign service officer and worked on the National Security Council in the Clinton White House.

-Jim Messina, deputy chief of staff. He is now director of personnel for Obama's transition team and was national chief of staff during the presidential campaign.

On Saturday, Obama named longtime Capitol Hill aide Philip Schiliro as assistant to the president for legislative affairs when the new administration takes over Jan. 20.

Obama's team also includes Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, who now will serve in the same role for Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and longtime Obama friend and supporter Valerie Jarrett will be a senior adviser and assistant to Obama for intergovernmental relations.

Other staff positions expected to be announced soon could include the likely appointments of campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary, chief strategist David Axelrod as a top White House adviser, and Gregory Craig, President Clinton's impeachment trial lawyer, as White House counsel.

In his published letter, Obama quoted Abraham Lincoln, "another son of Illinois" who had left for Washington, "a greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided."

Lincoln, Obama wrote, said of his home: "To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything."

Obama wrote, "I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to "`confidently hope that all will yet be well."'