Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why Obama Wants Rahm

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It is a rule of politics that presidents don’t get involved in primaries involving members of their own party. Yet Rahm Emanuel just released another ad in which he’s praised by President Obama.

    “We could not have accomplished what we’ve accomplished without Rahm’s leadership,” Obama says in the clip, which was culled from Emanuel’s White House farewell ceremony. ”His advice has always been candid, his opinions have always been insightful, his commitment to his job has always been heartfelt, borne of a passionate desire to move this country forward and lift up the lives of the middle class and people who are struggling to get there. We are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified. “
     
    Obama doesn’t have to tape an endorsement, because that farewell ceremony was the endorsement, reportedly scripted by David Axelrod for use in Emanuel’s campaign. Have you ever seen a chief of staff given such a public send-off? Never.

    Axelrod, of course, is back in Chicago. Officially, he came home to run Obama’s re-election campaign, but unofficially he’s also here to help Emanuel. Axelrod’s old firm, AKPD Media, is producing Emanuel’s campaign ads.

    Obama and Emanuel also share the same fundraising apparatus. Billionaire hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, who has been donating to Obama since he ran for the U.S. Senate, is one of Emanuel’s biggest contributors.

    Also, it hardly looks like a coincidence that Emanuel is looking to step into Richard M. Daley’s old job, and William Daley stepped into Emanuel’s old job.

    Some of this is Obama paying back Emanuel and the Daleys for their support over the years. (Or at least for staying out of his way.) But Obama has strategic reasons for wanting Emanuel as mayor, too. Emanuel would be the White House’s representative at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and he’ll help Obama manage his presidential legacy after he leaves the White House and comes home to build a library.

    The unspoken message to the Chicago political establishment is, “You help Rahm, and maybe Barack will help you. You don’t help Rahm …”

    David Hoffman, who lost the U.S. Senate primary to Alexi Giannoulias last year, probably disappointed some of his progressive supporters by endorsing Emanuel today.

    “He has the potential to be quite independent of the political power structure, perhaps more so than some of the other candidates,” Hoffman told the Chicago News Cooperative. “He is very smart. I think he has great potential.”

    Hoffman still has political ambitions here in Illinois, so he wants to stay on the president’s good side. We’ll see who else falls into line in the last 12 days before the election.

    Update: it's Forrest Claypool! The failed candidate for Cook County Board President and Cook County Assessor issued this statement today:
     
    "I want to tell you today about a promising campaign for mayor of Chicago. I’ve known Rahm Emanuel for more than 30 years. We’ve worked together, along with David Axelrod, on campaigns here in Illinois, including Paul Simon and Barack Obama, and I’ve seen first hand his sound judgment, integrity, and commitment to addressing the major challenges of the day. I admire his tenacity and his ability to deliver results to his constituents."