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Obama taps veteran Dem hand to revive presidency

John Podesta, a veteran Democratic operative who served as President Clinton's chief of staff during impeachment, will join the White House as "counselor."
John Podesta moderates a panel discussion at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC., Oct. 24, 2013.
John Podesta moderates a panel discussion at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC., Oct. 24, 2013.

President Obama is turning to a former top Clinton aide and veteran Democratic operative to help revive his flagging second term.

John Podesta will serve as a counselor to the president for a year, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News. The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Podesta is a committed progressive, as well as an experienced political hand who has helped navigate past crises at the White House. He served as Bill Clinton's chief of staff during the former president's impeachment saga. He later founded the Center for American Progress (CAP), a prominent liberal Washington think tank with close ties to the Obama White House. Podesta also ran Obama's 2008-09 transition effort.

Podesta's arrival suggests that Obama is looking to breathe new life into the White House, with his approval ratings at historic lows after the botched rollout of his health care law and unceasing Republican obstructionism. Earlier this week, Obama's former top congressional liasion, Phil Schiliro, returned to the White House to help with the health care effort.

Podesta, 64, will have a broad portfolio, but a point of focus will be climate change, the Times reported. With little chance of climate-change legislation pasisng Congress, Obama is looking to use his executive power to tackle the issue. The EPA has isused tough new rules to regulate global warming pollution. 

Last month, Podesta announced that would serve as chairman of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a newly established organization within CAP that will focus on inequality.