Exit Rahm Emanuel. Enter "Mr Fixer"

Obama must do without the man he used to start and end his day with.

He was the tactician-in-chief who's had a hand in almost every aspect of Democratic politics at the highest level for the last four years. But now Rahm Emanuel is stepping down as White House chief of staff, as he returns to the rather different rough and tumble of big-city Chicago politics -- chasing what he's called his "dream job" as the city's next mayor.

Emanuel last held elected office back in 2002 -- when he represented Chicago's 5th district in Congress -- rising so rapidly he was chosen to head up the Democratic effort to recapture a majority in the House in 2006 which they managed, winning some 30 seats. But from the heady heights of chairing the House Democratic caucus, a complete gear change when Barack Obama offered him the job of chief of staff.

His style could hardly have been more of a contrast to his aloof, rather academic boss: this was a political street-fighter who was as well known for his profanity as his consumate strategic skills.He amassed a vast experience in political campaigns, from raising money to managing the team -- and from the start, he was integral to Obama's decision-making.

As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in Thursday's briefing: "The president starts his day with a meeting with Rahm and ends it with a meeting with Rahm. ...there's not an important thing that has happened in this administration that we've been able to accomplish for the American people that has not involved heavily his signature"

Of course Emanuel had plenty of political foes, inside the Democratic party and beyond: not least liberals who blame him for the decision to abandon the public option in the health care reforms, and forcing Democrats in the House to make key concessions to their Republican rivals. Because of him, they claim, any wider progressive vision was sacrificed to the pragmatic minutiae of political deals. In fact his relationship with House Democrats has not been particularly smooth: although Nancy Pelosi did announce yesterday that she would be endorsing his bid for Chicago mayor.

For the White House, it'll clearly be a huge loss with other key members of the Obama team set to announce their departures too, not least communications guru David Axelrod, who'll be taking charge of the 2012 re-election campaign.

It could leave the President somewhat bereft at this crucial moment in the presidency - or it could offer him a chance to reshape the West Wing, But the appointment of "Mr Fixer" Pete Rouse as acting chief of staff could send out a number of messages: he's clearly another insider, dubbed the "101st senator" -- with three decades of experience on Washington's political scene.

A profile in the New York Times described him as "a measured, discreet and skillful problem solver with a knack for navigating bureaucracy". All of which could come in handy if Obama finds himself having to deal with a Republican House.

It'll certainly be a quieter, politer West Wing - the cat-loving Rouse is also known for barely raising his voice - a man who fights his battles for the long term rather than any instant political gain. But beyond his interim tenure - there's a certain amount of pressure on Obama to find someone from outside his inner circle who could bring a new perspective and a different kind of energy to his team.

As for Rahm Emanuel he's now plunging into a rather crowded field back in Chicago with victory far from certain.

One city politician, Rep Bobby Rush, told the New York Times there would be no coronation: "He's a very viable and smart politician, but he's got as many challenges as everybody else."

So after today's high profile send off from President Obama, he'll be hitting the streets with a "listening tour" of city neighbourhoods trying to build a winning coalition before the primaries in Feburary next year. His spokesman, Rick Jasculca said the tour would be "very retail in its feel", trying to build "a one to one connection with people where they live and where they work." But he's already appointed political consultants (David Axelrod's old firm, as it happens) -- and there's a handy $1.2m left over from the campaign fund dating back to his Congressional days. He clearly knows how to run a successful campaign.

And a little of the old Obama magic, if he can find it, wouldn't go amiss either.

Felicity Spector is chief writer and American politics expert for Channel 4 News.

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Manchester united: "A minority of absolute idiots are trying to break us apart"

At the vigil, one man's T-shirt read: "The only thing that's allowed to be separated by colour is the laundry."

A day after one of the worst atrocities in the history of the city, Manchester's people were keen to show the world the resilience of the Mancunian spirit.

Dom's, an Italian restaurant, is in walking distance from Manchester Arena, where 22 people lost their lives to a suicide bomber the night before. On Tuesday, the staff were giving out free coffee, tea and pizza to anyone who needed it. On a table outside, there was a condolences book, and teary passersby left RIP messages to those who perished. Under a bright blue sky, the community seemed more united than ever, the goodwill pouring out of everyone I met. But the general mood was sombre. 

"We need to make space for healing and for building up our community again, and just getting people to feel comfortable in their own city," the Dean of Manchester, Rogers Govendor, told me.

The terrorist has been named as Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old Mancunian of Libyan descent. But with a population of 600,000, Manchester is a cosmopolitan hub, and proud of it. Throughout the day I encountered people of all skin shades and religions. On one of the roads off Albert Square, a couple of Orthodox Jewish boys set up a little stand, where people could grab a bottle of water and, if they so desired, hold hands and pray.

On the night of the tragedy, Muslim and Sikh cab drivers turned off the meter and made their way to Manchester Arena to offer free rides to anyone - many of them injured - who trying to escape the mayhem and reach safety. "It's what we do around here," my taxi driver said with a thick Arabic accent.

The dissonance between the increasingly frantic debate on social media and what was discussed on the streets was stark. I spoke, on and off the record, with about two dozen residents, eavesdropped on a number of conversations, and not once did I hear anyone speaking out against the cultural melting pot that Manchester is today. If anything, people were more eager than ever to highlight it. 

"Manchester has always been hugely multicultural, and people always pull together at times of trouble and need," said Andrew Hicklin. "They are not going to change our society and who we are as people. We live free lives."

It was also a day where political divisions were put aside. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn agreed to suspend their campaigns. For the next few days there will be no Labour vs Tory, no Brexiteer vs Remainer, at least not in this part of the country. This city has closed ranks and nothing will be allowed to come between that cohesion.

"I don't demonise anyone," said Dennis Bolster, who stopped by to sign the condolences book outside Dom's. "I just know a small minority of absolute idiots, driven by whatever they think they are driven by, are the people who are trying to break us apart."

Later in the day, as people were getting off work, thousands flocked to Albert Square to show their respects to the victims. Members of the Sikh community entered the square carrying "I love MCR" signs. The crowd promptly applauded. A middle-aged man wore a T-shirt which said: "The only thing that's allowed to be separated by colour is the laundry." A moment of silent was observed. It was eerie, at times overwhelmingly sad. But it was also moving and inspiring.

Local poet Tony Walsh brought brief respite from the pain when he recited "This is the Place", his ode to the city and its people. The first verse went:

This is the place In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best

And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands

Set the whole planet shaking.

Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music

We make brilliant bands

We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands

On stage, everyday political foes became temporary allies. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, home secretary Amber Rudd, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and house speaker John Bercow all brushed shoulders. Their message was clear: "we are Manchester too."

The vigil lasted a little over half an hour. On other occasions, a crowd this size in the centre of Manchester would give authorities reason for concern. But not this time. Everyone was in their best behaviour. Only a few were drinking. 

As Mancunians made their way home, I went over to a family that had been standing not far from me during the vigil. The two children, a boy and a girl, both not older than 10, were clutching their parents' hands the whole time. I asked dad if he will give them a few extra hugs and kisses as he tucks them in tonight. "Oh, absolutely," he said. "Some parents whose children went to the concert last night won't ever get to do that again. It's heartbreaking."

Felipe Araujo is a freelance journalist based in London. He writes about race, culture and sports. He covered the Rio Olympics and Paralympics on the ground for the New Statesman. He tweets @felipethejourno.

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