Pete Rouse's Lighter Touch

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss? Not quite. Just one week into Pete Rouse’s tenure as White House chief of staff following the departure of Rahm Emanuel, his different, softer touch is already being noticed in the West Wing. Gone are the days of shouting to summon staffers and brashly stated opinion. Rouse prefers to email his subordinates, and then prod them with something closer to the Socratic method. “Rahm is declarative,” said a top administration official. “Pete is inquisitive.” In the long term, Rouse is now working on preparing for the post-Nov. 2 landscape, as Democrats brace themselves for losses in Congress. And part of that will mean changes in personnel around the president—many of them have been in place since the campaign. Although President Obama may be reluctant to mix things up too much. “Nothing has changed,” says one person familiar with his thinking. “It’s not that he’s uncomfortable with outside people, it’s that he wants the people he’s most comfortable with right next to him.”