WASHINGTON // The US president-elect Barack Obama is seeking some economic advice from leaders of business, government and academia, making the struggling economy - the nation's main concern - his first order of public business. Mr Obama and vice president-elect Joe Biden were meeting today with 17 members of their transition economic advisory board. Members include former presidential Cabinet officials and executives from Xerox, Time Warner, Google and the Hyatt hotel company. The investor Warren Buffett was participating by telephone.
Mr Obama also was holding his first news conference as president-elect after the meeting. It was to be his first public appearance since Tuesday's election, where exit polls showed that the economy was far and away the top issue for voters. He has been using the time for private meetings with his transition team, receiving congratulatory phone calls from US allies and intelligence briefings, and making decisions about who will help run his government.
His first choice, for White House chief of staff, was Rahm Emanuel, a fiery partisan unafraid of breaking glass and hurting feelings. The choice of Mr Emanuel is a significant departure from the soft-spoken, low-key aides that "No-Drama Obama" surrounded himself with during the campaign. In contrast to Mr Obama's collegial style and that of his top campaign advisers, Mr Emanuel is known as a foul-mouthed practitioner of brass-knuckled politics who relishes both conflict and publicity. He once mailed a dead fish to a political foe.
With the selection of Mr Emanuel, Democrats say Mr Obama seemed to recognise that he may have his work cut out for him in taming his party's members of the House of Representatives. They say Mr Emanuel is someone who not only can stand up to Congress but also manoeuvre through it to achieve a chief executive's goals. And the transition chief John Podesta, like Mr Emanuel, is a former top aide to president Bill Clinton and a tough partisan infighter, though less bombastic than the new chief of staff.
People close to him say the selections show he is aware of his strengths and weaknesses, and knows what he needs to be successful as he shifts from campaigning to governing. In announcing Mr Emanuel's appointment, Mr Obama also highlighted his economic experience, touching on what will be a key issue once he takes office. *AP