President-elect Obama, center, meets with his economic advisory team in Chicago , Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. Facing camera, from left are, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons. Back to camera, from left are, White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanual and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President-elect Obama points down the table during a meeting with his economic advisory team in Chicago , Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. From left are, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Obama. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
CHICAGO, November 7, 2008 — President-elect Obama met with economic experts Friday to discuss ways to stabilize the teetering U.S. economy that is expected to dominate his transition to power and early days in office.
Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden convened a meeting of the transition economic advisory board, a high-powered collection of business, academic and government leaders. They included Lawrence Summers, who some have mentioned as a candidate for Treasury secretary, a post he held in the Clinton administration; Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, whose state has been hit hard by losses in the auto industry; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.
Rahm Emanuel, who will be Obama's White House chief of staff, also participated in the meeting.
"We're not starting from nowhere," Summers told NBC's "Today" show. "Throughout his campaign the president-elect has been talking about what we need to do. We need to put the middle class at the center of the policy approach in a way that it hasn't been these last years."
Other participants in the meeting included executives from Xerox Corp., Time Warner Inc.; and the Hyatt hotel company. Investor Warren Buffett was calling in by telephone.
Obama also was holding his first news conference as president-elect after the meeting.
It was to be Obama's first public appearance since Tuesday's election, where exit polls showed that the economy was far and away the top issue for voters. More evidence of a recession came Friday when the government reported that the unemployment rate had jumped from 6.1 percent in September to 6.5 percent in October.
Obama has been meeting privately with his transition team, receiving congratulatory phone calls from U.S. 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 Emanuel is a significant departure from the soft-spoken, low-key aides that "No-Drama Obama" surrounded himself with during the campaign. And transition chief John Podesta, like Emanuel, is a former top aide to President Clinton and a tough partisan infighter, though less bombastic than the new chief of staff.
The selections are telling for Obama, who campaigned as a nontraditional, almost "post-partisan" newcomer. 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.
Transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Obama would not announce any personnel appointments Friday.
One person frequently mentioned for a Cabinet post, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, will not be available until 2011, say officials close to him. Rendell has two years left of his term, and Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, a Democrat, is ailing. Next in line to be governor is the Republican president pro tempore the state Senate.
Rather than take the chance that the GOP would gain control of the governor's office, Rendell has signaled he will stay put for the time being.
On Friday morning, Obama and his wife, Michelle, attended a parent-teacher conference at the University of Chicago Lab School where their daughters, Malia and Sasha, are students. The couple planned to visit the White House on Monday at President Bush's invitation.
Obama planned to stay home through the weekend, with a blackout on news announcements so he and his staff can rest after the grueling campaign and the rush of Tuesday night's victory. He is planning a family getaway to Hawaii in December before they move to the White House, and to honor his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died Sunday at her home there.
Obama, who bested Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made it clear he will rely heavily on veterans of her husband's eight-year administration, the only Democratic presidency in the past 28 years.
Podesta was President Clinton's chief of staff, and several other former Clinton aides are on Obama's short lists for key jobs, Democratic officials say. Some helped write a large briefing book on how to govern, assembled under Podesta's supervision.
Obama also is certain to bring to the White House a cadre of longtime aides like senior adviser David Axelrod and press secretary Robert Gibbs. Both have worked closely with Obama since he ran for the Senate in 2004.