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Opponents Pile on Emanuel



    Opponents Pile on Emanuel
    Carol Moseley Braun, Miguel del Valle, Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico take part in a televised debate at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago on Feb. 17, 2011.

    In the final debate before Election Day, Rahm Emanuel's opponents did their best to try to chip away at the apparent front-runner and force the election into April.

    But despite all the barbs that Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun threw Emanuel's way, the debate failed to break new ground or present information that hasn't been already uttered.

    All three of Emanuel's challengers expressed opposition over a plan to modify Chicago's sales tax.  Chico calls the plan "the Rahm Tax" and said it would be "the largest expansion of the sales tax on services that has ever been put to our city."

    Moseley Braun said simply that she was opposed to any new taxes, no matter what their form.  And del Valle openly questioned why the topic was being discussed, theorizing that Emanuel proposed it because "it sounds good."  He said state legislators would never approve the plan, so talking about it is "ludicrous."

    Del Valle used the moment to make a plea to voters to force a run-off election so that more time could be spent crunching the numbers. 

    Later, Chico pressed Emanuel to take accountability for the failure of Freddie Mac.  Emanuel sat on the corporation's board prior to the housing crash.

    "We have yet, we have just a few days left in the campaign, and I have yet heard an answer about what happened during your time on the board of Freddie Mac," said Chico.  "What happened there?  What responsibility do you take for that accounting scandal that cost all of us as taxpayers so much money?"

    The question could only be planted in voters' minds, as Emanuel wasn't given an opportunity to respond directly to the question.

    Moseley Braun charged Emanuel with killing the DREAM Act while serving as President Barack Obama's chief of staff, ultimately depriving the college experience from children of undocumented immigrants.

    "You have been, Mr. Emanuel, shown that you were directly involved with killing the DREAM Act when it came through," she said. 

    Del Valle piled on:

    "The fact of the matter is that Rahm Emanuel referred to immigration as the third rail of politics when he advised his colleagues in Congress not to pursue immigration reform and then, as chief of staff to the President of the United States, he also advised the president not to pursue immigration reform in the first year of his administration."

    Emanuel said the issue was a complicated one that hadn't been tackled since 1986 during Ronald Reagan's administration. 

    He said the naturalization of individuals into the country "dramatically increased at the period of time" he served in the Obama Administration and pointed to the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court as facts that paint a "more comprehensive picture" of his record.

    Even without much new information, the debate  -- held at the Oriental Theater and broadcast on ABC 7 Chicago -- gave the candidates an opportunity to remind voters of where they stand just days before the election.

    Video from ABC7Chicago.com: Mayoral Debate