Mayor Rahm Emanuel's latest political advertisement takes on critics who say he's too gruff.
The ad, out Tuesday, and his first since failing to win a second term outright, strikes a strategic mix of contrition and determination.
"I can rub people the wrong way or talk when I should listen. I own that," Emanuel says squarely into the camera. "But I’m driven to make a difference. .... I’m not going to always get it right. But when it comes to fighting for Chicago and Chicago’s future, no one’s going to fight harder."
Emanuel garnered 46 percent of the vote in the Feb. 24 election, short of the majority support he needed to earn a second term. He faces Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who came in second place, with 34 percent of the vote, in the April 7 runoff.
Garcia said Emanuel finds himself in a runoff because he "broke his promise to put more police on the street."
"The mayor seems to have missed the most important lesson from the runoff election: people want a change," Garcia campaign manager Andrew Sharp said in response to the mayor's ad.
Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff, has been criticized during his first term and the latest campaign not only for his decisions but the way he's carried them out. He closed dozens of schools, frustrated unions during pension deal talks, angered some small business owners during minimum wage discussions, and has balked at or flat-out ignored questions posed to him by the media.
But he says those actions show a candidate who is self-aware and determined to make the decisions he thinks are best.
Emanuel's ad seems to follow advice posited by Ward Room blogger Brooke Anderson the day after the Mayor's primary defeat.
"He could warm up his appeal to voters by acknowledging, at the right moment in the weeks ahead, that he hasn’t done everything right. And while his supporters say he’s been making tough choices to move the city forward, sending some smoke signals that he will take a more inclusive approach to governing in his second term would probably go a long way," Anderson wrote in a Feb. 25 piece opining how Emanuel could gain momentum in the race. "Imperfection resonates. It’s human. Some off-message sincerity -- even vulnerability -- could be just what the mayor needs."