Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged fellow Democrats Monday to “take a chill pill” and accept their diminished power in Washington.
"It took us a long time to get this low," Emanuel said during an appearance at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in California. "It ain’t gonna happen in 2018. Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul."
The mayor stressed the need to "create a farm team" of prospective candidates for 2018 that could run in vulnerable Republican districts. As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he led a sweeping Democratic victory during the 2006 midterm election.
"I got a lot of crap for recruiting Iraq and war vets, football players, sheriffs, businesspeople," Emanuel noted. "I said, well they’re running in Republican districts. I wanted to take cultural issues off the table and I wanted to present economic issues."
The mayor said Democrats need to be "ruthless enough" to take on the GOP.
'Winning’s everything," Emanuel said. "If you don’t win, you can’t make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle."
"Sometimes, you’ve just got to win, okay? Our party likes to be right, even if they lose," he added.
Emanuel said he doesn’t go to "moral victory speeches," noting that he "can’t stand them."
“I’ve never lost an election,” the mayor said. “It’s about winning, because if you win you then have the power to go do what has to get done.”
“If you lose, you can write the book about what happened — great, that’s really exciting,” Emanuel said jokingly.
During his appearance at Stanford Monday, the mayor urged Democrats to focus on selectively opposing the Republican agenda instead of exacerbating rifts within the party.
“Stop it,” he said. “We’re not strong enough to do that.”
Emanuel noted that Democrats should also work to exploit rifts between President Donald Trump and Republican leaders.
“Wherever there’s a disagreement among Republicans, I’m for one of those disagreements,” he said. “I’m all for it. President’s with Russia? I’m with John McCain and Lindsey Graham, I’m for NATO. Why? [It’s a] wedge. Schisms have to be wedges, wedges have to be divides and divisions.”
Emanuel also reflected on his time working in the Clinton administration Monday, noting that former President Bill Clinton often stressed the need to put forth policy proposals to counter the GOP agenda.
“You can’t beat something with nothing,” Emanuel said of the former president’s lesson.