If Mitt Romney "can't stand up to Rush [Limbaugh], how [is he] going to stand up to Russia," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday, attacking the Republican candidate the day before both he and President Obama visit Illinois for separate campaign fundraisers.
The mayor was referring to the soft response Romney made after the conservative talk show host called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a "slut."
"It's not the language I would have used," Romney told reporters after an event in Cleveland earlier this month.
Emanuel said he thought Limbaugh's comments were "absolutely not only wrong, it was absolutely repulsive" and showed that the candidate lacked the character to stand up and make tough decisions.
"You just take a look at the fortitude, the strength, the determination and the vision the president made on the auto industry and juxtapose it to Mitt Romney, who doesn’t have the fortitude, the strength or the character in my view to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. How can he stand up and make a decision to save 1.3 million manufacturing jobs?" said Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff.
"That Oval Office requires vision. That Oval Office requires spine. That Oval Office requires determination and grit. Mitt Romney says, ‘Let it go.’ The president said the American workers are too important to let go, and he doubled down on the American workers. When a decision comes to the Oval Office, who’s got the fortitude, who’s got the grit, who’s got the determination and who’s got the back of the American people and middle-class families? And nothing coming into that Oval Office is easy. It’s not clear. And I think when you see the character, the fortitude and the strength measured up, and the determination to reject conventional wisdom and see around the corner what’s right for the American middle class, people who work every day, play by the rules, you’ll see the difference of the two individuals and their vision for America."
Limbaugh later apologized to Fluke. But Republicans say there's a double-standard, pointing out that liberal talker Bill Maher last year called former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin words that aren't publishable here.
Emanuel later said Maher's words were "disgusting," and pointed out that Obama strategist David Axelrod had canceled an appearance on Maher's HBO program, the Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman pointed out.
Maher told ABC News' Jake Tapper on Thursday that his criticism was different because Fluke is a private citizen whereas Palin is a public figure "who's called people 'terrorist' and 'unAmerican.'"