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Peter M. Rouse (born 1946) is Senior Adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, having served as a co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.
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, still in 2004, Rouse was contacted by a law school friend of Obama's and chose to work for Obama as his Senate chief of staff.
On September 28, 2010, Rouse became the favorite replacement to the departing White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Overall, Rouse has worked on Capitol Hill for more than 30 years, since 1971. According to Amy Sullivan (Washington Monthly), Rouse came to be known as "the 101st Senator" thanks to his knowledge and skills.
He is a 1968 graduate of Colby College, a graduate of the London School of Economics, and is a 1977 graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School, where he received a Master of Public Administration.
Rouse helped prepare a memo, "The Strategic Plan," for Obama's first year in the Senate. Helping Obama navigate Senate politics and yet remain an outsider, Rouse worked with Obama and Senator Russell Feingold on strengthening ethics reform legislation. Similarly, he suggested that Obama speak with Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Joseph I. 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, Jr., who 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.
On October 15, 2001, Rouse was the Daschle staffperson to call the police about a letter that tested positive for anthrax powder (Boyer 2001) 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.
Rouse had worked since 1985 for Daschle, whom he met as a fellow legislative assistant for Senator James Abourezk (D-SD).
Role as Senior Adviser
Rouse is 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.
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."
In September 2009, the Washington Post reported that Rouse was heading the White House's efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.