Barack Obama, the US president described his interim White House chief of staff as 'wise' and 'skillful counselor [AFP]

Peter Rouse, the newly appointed interim White House chief of staff, is a behind-the-scenes man who has spent most of his professional career advising Washington power players.

Rouse, 64, is one of longest-serving aides of Barack Obama, the US president. Rouse has worked for him since Obama was a US senator for Illinois, and was one of three White House officials with the title senior adviser to the president, alongside David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett.

Amongst his other posts, Rouse served as co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Project, and as senior adviser to Obama's election campaign.

Rouse is a member of a powerful but low-profile class of Washington political operatives, known for his connections in the US senate.

Skillful player

Sometimes called the "101st Senator" for his extensive knowledge of, and ties to congress, Rouse has worked on Capitol Hill for more than thirty years.

He joined president Obama soon after his 2004 election to the senate, when Obama sought him out for his experience in the chamber.

Mr Rouse helped him grow from a prominent but untested junior senator to a legitimate presidential contender, and later assisted him in assembling the strategy and campaign team that put Mr Obama in the White House.

"Pete has been with senator-elect, senator, president-elect, and now President Obama," Robert Gibbs, the spokesman for the White House, said ahead of his anticipated appointment as interim chief of staff.

"There's a complete loyalty and trust with somebody like Pete. Pete's strategic sense has played a big part of the direction of virtually every big decision that's made inside of this White House."

A Connecticut native, Rouse is a graduate of Colby College and the London School of Economics, and is a 1977 graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School, where he received a masters degree in public administration.

Source: Agencies