The fast shuffle of senior White House aides that elevated Jack Watson to chief of staff may be his springboard to a Cabinet post if President Carter emerges the victor in November.
Hamilton Jordan, who is taking over the reins of Mr. Carter's re-election bid , will resume his chief of staff duties once he no longer has to give full time to running the campaign.
Eugene Eidenberg, who has been Mr. Watson's deputy, now takes over the former Watson role as liaison to the governors and mayors and as a general trouble-shooter for President Carter.
In promoting Mr. Watson, the President is turning to an aide who often has won presidential plaudits for performance.
Recently, in a staff meeting during the worst of the recent troubles in Miami , a senior staffer was reporting what Mr. Watson was doing to try to quiet things down.
"Jack has done a splendid job," this assistant said. To which the President said, "I have never known him to fail."
Actually, Mr. Watson was considered for a Cabinet position last summer, perhaps as a replacement for Transportation Secretary Brock Adams.
When asked about Mr. Watson's rise, one White House source says, "First, he's a very capable fellow. But beyond that, he has always had a strong supporter in one of the President's closest political advisers, Charles Kirbo."
Mr. Watson was a member of the Kirbo law firm in Atlanta before joining the Carter administration.
During the 1976 post-election transition period, Mr. Watson emerged as a rival to Hamilton Jordan. There was speculation that Mr. Watson was seeking to replace Mr. Jordan as Mr. Carter's righthand man. But Mr. Jordan moved in quickly and solidified his position.
Since then the relationship between the two not only has been repaired, but they get along together extremely well.
Mr. Watson is usually described by those who know him best as being low-keyed and extremely loyal to the President.