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A Career Ally Keeps ‘Daschle Inc.’ Steady

“Senator Reid called my home and left a message on my answering machine, and he says, ‘You are always talking about those damn cats, if they are so smart how come they don’t answer the phone when you are not there,’” Rouse said. “So I call him back at home and he starts on me again saying, ‘You know those damn cats ... those lazy things. They are not as smart as you say they are,’ and I said, ‘Well actually they are, because they screen the calls and they take the one’s they think are relevant.’”

While Rouse said he is “very close friends” with Daschle, the two men spend so much time together at work that they rarely socialize outside of the office.

“I suspect when he leaves the Senate, when I stop working for him, we will probably see more of each other in a social setting,” he said. But when that is remains anybody’s guess, including Rouse’s.

As for future career paths, lobbying is one avenue he doesn’t expect to pursue in the future.

“It has been a series of challenges,” he said, explaining why he has remained as Daschle’s top aide for nearly 20 years. In fact, Rouse said he doesn’t think he would be a good fit as a lobbyist, citing a gruff exterior and the fact that “my strongest asset is not my sunny personality.”

Regardless of what is the right personality fit for his future job prospects, Rouse expects a Daschle victory in November, which would keep him firmly planted in the leader’s second-floor office just off the Senate chamber for years to come.

“I like what I am doing and I love the people I am working with,” he said. “I agree with what Daschle is trying to do and I don’t have any intentions of quitting at the moment.”

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