Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rahm and Romney: Two Peas in a Pod

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With all due respect to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he’s probably not the best messenger for President Obama’s attack on Mitt Romney.

Romney is not yet the Republican nominee, but the Obama campaign is proceeding as though he will be. It’s a reasonable assumption. The Republicans always nominate the guy who finished second last time around. In 2008, Romney finished second to John McCain, who’d finished second to in 2000 to George W. Bush, whose dad had finished second to Bill Clinton in 1992 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. It’s the GOP Law of Succession.

Romney, whose father was president of American Motors, grew up in Michigan as a prince of the auto industry. He went on to earn millions of dollars as a partner in Bain Capital, a private investment firm. He’s currently doubling the size of his $12 million beachfront mansion in La Jolla, Calif., because it’s not big enough for all his grandchildren. Obama plans to portray him as the Monopoly Man, Rich Uncle Moneybags, an elitist who embodies every patrician foible from Nelson A. Rockefeller to Judge Smails.

As the keynote speaker at Saturday’s Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, it was Emanuel’s task to strike that populist note.

Emanuel attacked Romney for “what he’s failed to do for the middle class and what he is willing to do for the most privileged and fortunate in our society.”

He cited Romney’s reaction to the economic collapse of late 2008, when the former Massachusetts governor favored bailing out the financial system, but opposed loans to rescue the auto industry from bankruptcy. According to Steven Rattner’s book, "Overhaul," White House Chief of Staff Emanuel was skeptical about the saving the auto industry. When he was reminded that a GM and Chrysler bankruptcy would put tens of thousands of autoworkers on the unemployment lines, Emanuel responded “F--- the UAW.”

Emanuel, a multi-millionaire who “earns” most of his income from interest, dividends and capital gains, and is trying to win a big tax cut for the Mercantile Exchange, said Romney “values the privileged and the affluent over the middle class.” The former lobbyist for NAFTA, which sent thousands of small factories to Mexico, then accused Romney of valuing outsourcing over manufacturing jobs.

Maybe it takes an economic elitist to know one, but it’s going to take someone more down to earth than Rahm Emanuel to make the case against Mitt Romney.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, is available at Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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