Pete Rouse

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Pete Rouse
Pete Rouse in the Oval Office.jpg
Counselor to the President
In office
January 13, 2011 – January 1, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Ed Gillespie
Succeeded by John Podesta
White House Chief of Staff
In office
October 1, 2010 – January 13, 2011
President Barack Obama
Deputy Mona Sutphen
Jim Messina
Preceded by Rahm Emanuel
Succeeded by Bill Daley
Senior Advisor to the President
In office
January 20, 2009 – October 1, 2010
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Barry Jackson
Succeeded by Brian Deese
Personal details
Born Peter Mikami Rouse
(1946-04-15) April 15, 1946 (age 76)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Colby College
London School of Economics
Harvard University

Peter Mikami "Pete" Rouse (born April 15, 1946) is an American political consultant who served as interim White House Chief of Staff to U.S. President Barack Obama. Rouse has spent years on Capitol Hill, becoming known as the '101st senator' during his tenure as Chief of Staff to Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. When Daschle lost his seat in 2004, Rouse was persuaded to stay in Congress as Chief of Staff to then-freshman Senator Barack Obama. Rouse followed Obama to the White House as a senior advisor in 2008 and became interim Chief of Staff there for several months following the departure of Rahm Emanuel in October 2010, and subsequent appointment of William M. Daley the following January. Rouse remained with the White House until late 2013 as Counselor to the President.

Early life

Rouse was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Mary Uta (née Mikami) and Irving Rouse. His father was of English and some Bohemian (Czech) descent, and his mother was of Japanese ancestry (Rouse is a sansei (third generation)).[1] Rouse's mother grew up as a child only speaking Japanese.[2] Rouse's maternal grandfather emigrated from Tokyo to San Francisco in 1885. He returned to Japan in 1910 to marry his wife, before they then moved back to the U.S., eventually settling in Alaska in 1915.[3] The Mikamis retired to Los Angeles shortly before World War II began. They were later sent to an internment camp in Arizona during the War.[4]

Rouse received a B.A. from Colby College in 1968, an M.A. from the London School of Economics in 1970, and an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1977.


Overall, Rouse worked on Capitol Hill for more than 40 years, since 1971. According to Amy Sullivan of Washington Monthly Rouse came to be known as "the 101st Senator" thanks to his knowledge and skills.[5]

With Daschle

Rouse had worked since 1985 for Daschle, whom he met as a fellow legislative assistant for Senator James Abourezk (D-SD).[6]

On October 15, 2001, Rouse was the Daschle staff member to call the police about a letter that contained anthrax powder.[7] Twenty of Daschle's staff subsequently tested positive for exposure to anthrax spores; it is not known if Rouse was exposed along with his workmates.[8]

With Obama in Senate

Rouse had been chief of staff to South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, the former majority leader, and was planning to retire after Daschle lost in 2004. However, in 2004, Rouse was contacted by a law school friend of then-Illinois Senator Obama and chose to work for him as his chief of staff.[9][10]

Rouse helped prepare a memo, "The Strategic Plan," for Obama's first year in the Senate.[11] Helping Obama navigate Senate politics, Rouse worked with Obama and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) on strengthening ethics reform legislation.[12] Similarly, he suggested that Obama speak with Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Lieberman in the early stages of exploring his presidential candidacy. Rouse also is credited with persuading Obama to vote against the nomination of John G. Roberts, who was nevertheless confirmed and is now Chief Justice of the United States (Bacon 2007).

As with all congressional staff, Rouse's compensation is public information. He has received salary payments above $140,000 during his years with Senator Obama.[13]

As the Obama Presidential Campaign picked up, Rouse was named Chief of Staff of Obama for America. After Obama's victory, Rouse became Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.

Role as Senior Advisor

During the first two years of the Obama Presidency, Rouse was one of three White House officials with the title Senior Adviser to the President, along with David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. In an interview, Rouse said that he "basically does the inside, organizational stuff and strategic stuff internally," adding that he had no desire to be the "outside person" but preferred to leave external relations to Axelrod, Jarrett and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Rouse said the Deputy Chiefs of Staff, Jim Messina and Mona Sutphen, "who run the place from day to day," report to him. Asked about his overall portfolio, he said "I fix things." He described himself as one of several problem fixers in a collaborative environment.[14]

The Rolling Stone described Rouse as a low profile, calm and legislatively connected manager, quoting one "top Democratic strategist" as saying that "Rouse's the one who brought 'no drama' to Obama. His enforcement makes it work."[15]

In September 2009, the Washington Post reported that Rouse was heading the White House's efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.[16]

White House Chief of Staff

Rouse speaking with President Obama in the Oval Office in October 2010, shortly after becoming Chief of Staff.

When Rahm Emanuel left the White House in October 2010 to run for Mayor of Chicago, Rouse became the "interim" Chief of Staff at the White House.[17] Rouse is the first Asian American Chief of Staff in U.S. history.

Counselor to the President

On January 6, 2011 it was announced that William M. Daley would succeed Rouse as permanent Chief of Staff.[18] Rouse was promoted to the role of Counselor to the President and remained with the White House through the end of 2013.[19][20]

Post White House

After leaving the White House, Rouse went to work for the law firm Perkins Coie, where he advises clients on navigating the federal government.[21]

Personal life

Rouse was born and raised in Connecticut.[22] He is unmarried and has an interest in Maine Coon cats.[23]


  2. "Rouse hailed as first Asian American chief of staff". The Washington Post. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2010-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Mikami, George and Mine". Cook Inlet Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Tom Kizzia (2010-09-30). "Obama's likely new staff chief was known as '101st senator'". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved 2010-10-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Sullivan, Amy Off to a Good Start.... Washington Monthly, December 7, 2004
  6. Preston, Roll Call July 28, 2004 as reported in The Frontrunner July 28, 2004 "SD: Top Aide Oversees All Aspects Of Daschle Operation"
  7. Boyer 2001
  8. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "Over 20 Senate leader staffers test positive for anthrax." October 17, 2001
  9. Bacon, Perry Jr. The Outsider's Insider Washington Post, August 27, 2007
  10. Interview: Pete Rouse PBS Frontline, October 14, 2008
  11. Bacon 2007
  12. Kirkpatrick, David D. Senate Passes Vast Ethics Overhaul New York Times, Jan. 19, 2007
  13. Peter Rouse (Pete), Congressional Staffer - Salary Data,
  14. Kizzia, Tom. Anchorage Daily News. Q&A with Pete Rouse, former Alaskan and adviser to President Obama. February 21, 2009. Accessed March 7, 2009.
  15. Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, Briefing: Obama's West Wing. February 25, 2009. Accessed March 7, 2009.
  16. Kornblut, Anne E. and Dafna Linzer. Washington Post. White House Regroups on Guantanamo. September 25, 2009. Accessed September 27, 2009.
  17. Emanuel Resigns as Obama Chief of Staff, Eyes Chicago Mayoral Race
  18. "Obama Picks William Daley As Chief Of Staff". NPR. 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Bill Daley tapped as Obama's chief of staff Chicago Tribune, January 6, 2011
  20. Pete Rouse planning to leave the White House ( Article)
  21. "Obama aide Pete Rouse to leave White House for Perkins Coie". United Press International. January 16, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Pilkington, Ed (September 30, 2010). "Rahm Emanuel's White House replacement expected to be Peter Rouse". World news - The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Henry, Ed. CNN. Henry in the House: Who Is Pete Rouse?. October 1, 2010. Accessed October 1, 2010.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Barry Jackson
Senior Advisor to the President
Succeeded by
David Plouffe
Preceded by
Rahm Emanuel
White House Chief of Staff

Succeeded by
Bill Daley
Preceded by
Ed Gillespie
Counselor to the President
Succeeded by
John Podesta