The Washington Post

Former aide Rahm Emanuel fights back against Obama’s critics

CHICAGO — It was “Rahmbo” to the rescue Wednesday night.

President Obama was on friendly turf for the first time in a while Wednesday night during his 50th birthday party/fundraiser here at the Aragon Entertainment Center. And his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of this city, came out swinging at Obama’s critics, primarily Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign released a Web ad this week using Obama’s home base of Chicago as the backdrop to attack the president on the sluggish economy. The video, titled “Obama Isn’t Working,” contrasts Obama’s triumphant election night speech at Grant Park with images of abandoned buildings, making the case that unemployment has soared during the president’s tenure.

But at a news conference unrelated to Obama’s visit, Emanuel, who earned the nickname “Rahmbo” for his take-no-prisoners style while working in Washington, slammed Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

“I’d just like to note to the governor, in case he needs a rendezvous with his record, when he was governor, Massachusetts [lagged behind] in job production,” Emanuel told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune. “In case he forgot that, I’d like to remind him of that.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel also said: “Because of the tough decisions the president made, discarding all the conventional wisdom that was then spewed around, 1.2 million people today have a job. He didn’t listen to conventional wisdom … drafted by … Mitt Romney, who suggested that … the auto industry and all the related industrial base of America should just go bankrupt.

“President Obama doubled down on America,” Emanuel continued. “Mitt Romney wanted to see ’em go bankrupt. And also, I’d just like to note to the [former], governor in case he needs a rendezvous with his record, when he was governor, Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 in job production. In case he forgot that, I’d like to remind him of that.”

Emanuel introduced Obama at the Aragon ballroom before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,400 party-goers, and he alluded to the recent debt negotiations battle between the president and Congress to paint Obama as a man of principle.

“The president never takes the short cut,” Emanuel told the crowd. “If he thinks something is right, he’s willing to pay any political price. I know because I was the one telling him to take the easy course.”

For his part, Obama paid back his former aide with gentle jabs about his performance so far as Chicago’s chief executive.

“I still have the pothole in front of my house,” Obama said after the event.

More Obama birthday coverage

Obama’s sub-50 approval ratings

Photos: Obama’s birthday bash

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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