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Rahm Emanuel Bids Emotional Goodbye to White House

It’s now official. President Obama’s chief of staff, the fiery former congressman Rahm Emanuel, has stepped down from his post. In an East Room ceremony, the president said Emanuel will be replaced by Pete Rouse, a long-time Obama aide.

Emanuel offered an emotional goodbye to the staff and hinted at his likely bid to be the next mayor of Chicago, calling his hometown “the greatest city in the greatest country in the world.”

He also had praise for his boss.

“Mr. President, I thought I was tough. But as someone who saw first hand how close our nation came to the brink and what you had to do to put America back on track, I want to thank you for being the toughest leader any country could ask for in the toughest times any president has ever faced,” Emanuel said.

Watch it here:

ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that Emanuel received a gag gift from White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee – a dead Asian carp wrapped in newspaper.

This was an allusion to the Emanuel legend of his sending a dead fish to a pollster for whom he didn’t care, replicating the scene from The Godfather when the Corleones were alerted of Luca Brasi’s death with a dead fish wrapped in Brasi’s bullet-proof vest. The specific species was a reference to Emanuel’s focus as a member of Congress and White House chief of staff on the aggressive, invasive Asian carp, bane of the Great Lakes, a plankton-devouring creature heading towards Chicago.

Our PBS colleagues at Frontline spoke with Rouse here as part of their reporting on the 2008 election.

In a signal of some of the differences between Emanuel and Rouse, President Obama quipped during Friday’s announcement: “Obviously these two men have slightly different styles. Pete has never seen a microphone or a TV camera that he likes.”

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