Senior White House officials on Tuesday dismissed the idea that Chief of Staff Bill Daley has been demoted.
White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted Daley would retain all of his authority under the new arrangement, and said the move had been in the works for weeks.
Briefing reporters on Air Force One during a Tuesday trip to Philadelphia, Carney said “a little bit more is being made of this than in fact is happening.”
“It’s less about transferring duties than it is about adding responsibilities without subtracting any from anybody else,” Carney said. “It’s about making the White House as effective and efficient as possible.”
Administration officials also pushed back at the idea of friction between staff and Daley, saying the chief enjoys good relationships both inside and outside the White House, despite reports and speculation to the contrary.
Daley arrived at the White House after a disastrous midterm election that saw Democrats lose control of the House.
The former Clinton administration official and Boeing board member was ostensibly brought in to soothe tensions between the White House and the business community and forge compromises as Obama sought to work with the new Republican majority.
The tone at the White House, however, shifted dramatically after the summer’s debt-ceiling fight, and the administration went squarely on offense against Republicans.
In recent weeks, Daley has raised eyebrows with remarks he has made. In a recent interview with Politico’s Roger Simon, the chief of staff placed blame on Democrats as well as Republicans for impeding Obama’s policies.
“On the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive,” Daley said in the interview. “This has led to a kind of frustration.”
At the time, the White House backed Daley’s remarks, saying he was referring to the modern relationship between Congress and the White House as a whole.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare Dem senator says his party will restore 60-vote Supreme Court filibuster MORE (D-Nev.), who reportedly had complained about Daley, on Tuesday said it was “none of my business, frankly, what the White House does with their inner staff.”
Carney said Daley told staff Monday that he “asked [Rouse] to take on these additional responsibilities to help us function better.”
“But it’s mostly about internal communication, making sure that everybody has the information they need so we can serve the president as effectively as possible,” Carney said.
He did not offer specifics as to what duties Daley would be handing off to Rouse.