The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rahm Emanuel’s remarkable confession

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has built his political career on his unapologetically confrontational approach to, well, everything. But now, amid a surprisingly competitive runoff race for a second term, Emanuel is confessing that his brash personality isn't always such a good thing.

Chicago mayoral candidate and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel ran this ad, in which he says, "I can rub people the wrong way, I can talk when I should listen. I own that, but I’m driven to make a difference." (Video: Rahm Emanuel via YouTube)

The 30-second ad, which began running on Tuesday in Chicago, shows a very different side of Emanuel -- all soft-spokenness and humility. "I can rub people the wrong way. Or talk when I should listen," Emanuel acknowledges in the spot. "I own that." Later, he admits: "I'm not going to always get it right."

What would make the man who embraced the nickname "Rahmbo" so contrite, so suddenly? Maybe the prospect of losing a race that prior to the Feb. 24 primary no one thought he could lose. Or post-primary polling that suggests Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has a genuine chance of pulling what would have to be considered a massive upset.

Emanuel is trying to make a simple argument in this ad: I may be a jerk (and I know I am one and I'm sorry), but I'm your jerk. And don't let my abrasiveness get in the way of the accomplishments I have racked up in my first four years.

Will it work? Who knows. But that Emanuel is trying it speaks to just how worried he is.