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Stillwater's Denis McDonough reportedly Obama's next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — According to multiple reports, President Obama is likely to choose Stillwater native Denis McDonough as his next chief of staff, making a Minnesotan the top presidential aide in the West Wing.

McDonough has been a long-time Obama confidant and currently serves as a top national security adviser to the president — he was seated two seats to Obama's left when White House officials monitored the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in 2011.

The Pioneer Press published a great profile of McDonough on Thursday, tracking his rise from small-town high schol football player to St. John's University history student to Capitol Hill foreign policy aide and now, the chief adviser to the President of the United States.

It also tells the story of his nickname, "The Dood."

[Tim] Stout, now a Mahtomedi resident who went to high school with McDonough and worked for years on Capitol Hill, was giving another fellow Stillwater grad a White House tour in 2009 when they ran into McDonough in the West Wing. McDonough told them to wait a minute, because "the boss" is coming out in a minute and maybe they could meet him.

"The president walks out, and without missing a beat looks straight into my eyes and says, 'So how you know The Dood?' My jaw just dropped. I told him, 'That's what we called him in high school.' And the president says, 'I know. That's what we all call him around here.' "

McDonough, by the way, has been known as The Dood since he was a toddler. One of his older brothers came home one day and decided to give his siblings nicknames. Denis was dubbed Dudley Do-Right, but the toddler pronounced it "Dood." It stuck.

McDonough, when appointed, will be Obama's fourth chief of staff. He'll take over for Jack Lew, Obama's Treasury Secretary appointee and a man with a few Minnesota ties of his own — Lew studied at Carleton College and counts Paul Wellstone as one of his faculty advisers.

Devin Henry can be reached at

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