Scenarios: Obama shuffles staff, what is coming next?

WASHINGTON Fri Oct 8, 2010 5:54pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday named a new national security adviser, part of an ongoing mid-term reshuffle of top policymakers that offers the chance of a fresh start as he battles weak approval ratings.

Obama is replacing former Marine General Jim Jones with his close aide Tom Donilon, putting a skeptic of Obama's Afghan troop buildup in charge of a December review of the war.

With other departures helping Obama reshape his economic team, this is an opportunity to try a new approach.

Here is a list of the changes that have taken place and are in store for the Obama administration:

LARRY SUMMERS, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR

Senior White House economic adviser Larry Summers announced on September 21 he would leave his job by the end of 2010 to return to Harvard University, where he is a professor.

Initial speculation held Obama wanted someone with a business background, preferably a woman. But aides emphasize he just wants to find the best person for the job.

Possible replacements for Summers include:

* Laura Tyson, a former top economic adviser to former President Bill Clinton who is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Has called for a second fiscal stimulus package, backs Obama's desire to allow tax cuts on richer Americans to lapse in December, and favors leveraging private capital to modernize U.S. infrastructure.

* Diana Farrell is a Summers deputy at the NEC who helped shape financial regulatory reform. Formerly of Goldman Sachs and the McKinsey Global Institute, she would bring private sector expertise to Obama's inner circle.

* Jason Furman, also a deputy to Summers, was a top economic adviser to Obama during his presidential campaign. Closely associated with Summers' centrist approach, he defended Walmart's ability to offer low-priced goods, which critics say stems from the company's resistance to efforts to boost wages and benefits. That might upset labor unions and liberal activists if he got the top NEC job.

* Anne Mulcahy, a former Xerox Corp. chief executive, has been considered a leading candidate. But she told CNBC on September 30 she did not feel the job was a good fit for her.

WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF RAHM EMANUEL

Obama's hard-charging chief of staff has left the administration to run for mayor of Chicago. Long-time Obama aide Pete Rouse is filling in on an interim basis. Rouse shuns the limelight and is much more of a behind-the-scenes player than Emanuel. He could well get the job on a permanent basis.

Other potential successors include:

* Ron Klain, chief of staff to Biden. Klain also served as a top aide to former Vice President Al Gore.

* White House counsel Robert Bauer. Bauer has been a longtime adviser to Obama and served as his personal attorney.

* Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. Daschle, a senior Democrat whose counsel Obama values highly, had been nominated by the president early in his term to become health secretary but a flap over unpaid taxes led him to withdraw.

* Leon Panetta, former chief of staff to former President Clinton and now CIA director.

DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES

Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, has signaled his intention to resign sometime in 2011.

Contenders to replace him include:

* Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, who would become the first female Defense chief.

* Democratic Senator Jack Reed, an Army veteran. Reed is someone whose counsel Obama values, Democrats say.

* Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator who traveled with Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2008 campaign.

SENIOR ADVISER DAVID AXELROD/PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS

Axelrod has indicated he will likely leave the administration sometime in 2011 to help lay the groundwork for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

Many speculate White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would then move into a more behind-the-scenes role advising Obama on strategy and communications. Gibbs has also been mentioned as a potential Democratic National Committee chairman, although he has said he is not talking to anyone about such a move.

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton is seen as a top contender to fill Gibbs' job behind the podium.

Other potential successors to Gibbs include:

* Stephanie Cutter, the chief spokeswoman during Obama's transition and now a special assistant to the president.

* Jay Carney, spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden and former Washington bureau chief for Time magazine.

* P.J. Crowley, State Department spokesman and a former Clinton administration staffer.

* Geoff Morrell, Pentagon spokesman. Morrell is a holdover from the Bush administration.

ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF

Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, is expected to retire once he completes his second term on October 1 next year.

Candidates to replace him include:

* General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, seems a natural fit, but would Obama want to pull him from the field after just over a year.

* General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is seen as a strong contender.

TOP ADVISERS WHO ALREADY HAVE LEFT THE ADMINISTRATION

* Christina Romer departed as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the beginning of September. She was replaced by Austan Goolsbee, who had been a member of the CEA.

* Peter Orszag, Obama's budget chief, left in July. Obama has tapped Jack Lew, a deputy Secretary of State, to replace him, although his nomination is being held up in the Senate.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan, Alister Bull and Ross Colvin; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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