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Valerie Jarrett: I'll stay 'until the lights go off'

Senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett plans to stick around until the very end, she said in an interview published Friday.

"Oh, my goodness, I intend to stay until the lights go off," she told New York Times Magazine, when asked whether she would stick with the administration until the end of President Obama's time in office. "Why would I miss a single second of this?"

Jarrett is an enigmatic and sometimes controversial figure to White House observers. She is one of the president's closest aides and a personal friend to the Obama family. Because of the close relationship she enjoys with the Obamas, she is viewed as one of his most powerful proxies in meetings with advocates and supporters.

But some have worried that she has too much power in the White House, including, reportedly, former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

"In a town where access is so important, initially it probably made people a little uncomfortable," she told the magazine when asked about the Chicago mayor. "I think that has faded. I just want to do my job, and part of my job for the president is to be his friend."

Jarrett is also a prominent defender of the president, and that role was on display in her interview with the magazine as well. She pushed back against charges that the president had not done enough to reach out to congressional Republicans - and that he could have built relationships by socializing with them.

"They weren't interested in playing golf, and they weren't interested in being schmoozed, and they weren't interested in going up to Camp David, they weren't interested in going to state dinners," she said. "They just wanted to say no." 

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