US Ambassador Dan Rooney signals he will step down

U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney has signaled that he intends to step down to personally help with the Obama re-election effort.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Rooney stated he was thinking of returning to the US soon.

“I would probably have to resign to campaign for President Obama’s re-election,” Rooney says. “I think that would be the number one thing I can do for him, and I’d be willing to do so. He’s the best man for the job, without question.”

Rooney played a key role in Pennsylvania when he endorsed Obama in 2008. As owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, his backing in a critical state meant a tremendous amount to Obama.

Rooney told The Times that the Obama trip would play very well with Irish Americans.

“They’ll say, ‘Gee – he’s gone to Ireland. Our immigrants – mother and father, grandfathers – that’s where they came from. It’s nice for him to be going back.'"

If Rooney does step down there will be considerable interest in who will be succeeding him.

One of the front runners is said to be powerful Washington lawyer Mark Tuohey, a former advisor to the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland. Tuohey has also served as a legal advisor to the office of Ireland's attorney general. He currently chairs Cooperation Ireland U.S., an organization involved in cross-border reconciliation efforts.

Another possible applicant is Maureen White, one of the top Democratic Party fundraisers who raised millions for Obama. She is married to Steve Rattner a very wealthy private equity investor.

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