By Michael Mcauliff
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
President Obama transferred the reins of his White House Friday from notoriously explosive Rahm Emanuel to Pete Rouse, a longtime Obama adviser who will bring a much lower-key approach as the new chief of staff.
Cracking jokes about Emanuel's legendary salty language and waxing emotional, Obama declared it a "bittersweet day" as he sent his former chief whip-cracker off to run for mayor of Chicago -- a departure that had been telegraphed for weeks.
"Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the least suspenseful announcement of all time," Obama quipped, with a smiling, winking Emanuel on one side, and a dour, bespectacled Rouse on the other.
"For nearly two years I have begun my workday with Rahm. I have ended my workday with Rahm," Obama said, hailing Emanuel for his "unmatched level of energy and enthusiasm and commitment to every single thing that he does."
"I will miss him dearly," Obama said, then noted the stark differences between the high-profile Emanuel and Rouse, a 62-year-old consummate insider.
"Pete has never seen a microphone or a TV camera that he likes," the President said.
Rouse, who for now is serving on an interim basis, immediately proved Obama right, and made no remarks.
He has a long history on Capitol Hill, and was once known as the 101st Senator when he worked for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
Rouse had long been considered a likely replacement for Emanuel, but most insiders expected Emanuel would not leave until after the elections.
That timing was upended by Chicago Mayor Richard Daly's unexpected decision this month not to run for reelection.