White House closes book on library talk

The White House on Tuesday insisted there "isn't even an effort that exists yet" for President Obama's presidential library.

Their comments follow a New York Times report about senior aides jockeying for influence over the project.

"There isn't even an outside organization that exists yet," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "I know that he and everyone here is focused on advancing the president's agenda for his second term that we just talked about. So I think we're ahead of ourselves."

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According to the Times, longtime Obama aide and deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco was originally tasked with shaping the project, which will involve picking a site and helping to raise an estimated half-billion dollars.

But now there's indications that senior adviser Valerie Jarrett is increasingly taking the lead.

Moreover, the paper reports, Marty Nesbitt, a longtime Obama friend, and Julianna Smoot, the president’s chief fundraiser, have begun reaching out to potential donors. Former Obama communications director Anita Dunn is also expected to be involved in the project.

Carney did not say whether the library would disclose donors once it began officially fundraising.

Officials in Hawaii and Chicago have both said that they hope to secure the library, which is expected to be a major tourist attraction. Speculation has focused around the University of Chicago, on the city's south side. Both the president and his wife had ties to the university, as do a number of top aides, including Jarrett and former political strategist David Axelrod, who recently launched a Center for Politics at the school.

"I’m going to make sure that the city of Chicago is well positioned,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, told the Times.