Rahm Emanuel on Principles & Values

Democratic Rep. (IL-5); Chief of Staff-Designee


Politicians are usually gray; I am not

Q: Robert Gates called you in his book: "a whirling dervish with attention deficit disorder."

EMANUEL: Yeah, so? What are you wondering?

Q: Do you pursue this style and image because it has advantages in governing?

EMANUEL: The assumption is that I only have one gear. I have more than one gear. Here is what I think about you guys.

Q: The media?

EMANUEL: Look, politicians are usually gray. I am not. So little things stand out because they are magnified against that backdrop. I will say this. I am driven to fulfill the responsibility I have. I owe the people who voted to fulfill the pledges I made.

Q: The portrait of you in your brother Zeke's new book made it seem as if you care about getting things done no matter the details. In one scene, doctors bring up malpractice reform and you sort of say, 'Screw this.'

EMANUEL: You asked me about style. Now you are asking me a different question.

Q: Yes.

EMANUEL: Don't mix the answers with the questions.

Q: I promise not to.

Source: The New Republic 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 6, 2014

Washington is not broken; the GOP is broken

Q: How do you think the GOP has changed since you left Washington in 2011?

EMANUEL: It has been going downhill. Washington is not broken. The GOP is broken. They need a Bill Clinton moment with someone to figure things out. If George W. Bush had never gotten in the disastrous Iraq war, he was trying to modernize the party on a series of fronts. But on tax and foreign policy, everything cratered.

Q: Chris Christie was going to be the savior.

EMANUEL: He "was." You said it in past tense.

Q: Do you think it is past tense?

EMANUEL: I do. Nothing is ever absolute in politics, but I am willing to go out on a limb and join you. It may take more than an immediate time frame for him to recover, and he doesn't have more than that.

Source: The New Republic 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 6, 2014

OpEd: Won 2002 House race with help of Chicago Daley Machine

Emanuel's record does not smell of good government. A Chicago political operative, he got his start in 1989 by raising funds for Richard M. Daley's first mayoral campaign. This was the beginning of a close, long-lasting relationship between the two men. A decade later, when Emanuel ran for Congress, he got another hand from the Daley Machine. Federal investigators found that the chief of Daley's water department had deployed city workers to campaign for Emanuel in his hotly contested 2002 Democratic primary for an open House seat. The "Chicago Sun-Times," in a piece entitled "Daley Machine Corruption Helps Emanuel Win First House Race," reported on the sleaze: "City Hall officials ordered the city's top water boss, Donald Tomczak, to marshal his political army of city workers for Mayor Daley, Congressman Rahm Emanuel and other politicians, according to a federal court document and other sources.
Source: Obamanomics, by Timothy P. Carney, p. 20-21 , Nov 30, 2009

The Plan: new social contract for a changed world

    If we're going to turn the country around, we need a bold agenda that can be counted off on one hand:
  1. A new social contract--universal citizen service, universal college access, universal retirement savings, and universal children's health care-- that makes clear what you can do for your country and what your country can do for you.
  2. A return to fiscal responsibility and an end to corporate welfare as we know it.
  3. Tax reform to help those who aren't wealthy build wealth.
  4. A new strategy to use all America's strengths to win the war on terror.
  5. A Hybrid Economy that cuts America's gasoline consumption in half over the next decade.
Each of these ideas represents a serious effort to address America's most pressing national challenges. Each of them marks a clean break with the status quo, yet ll are practical ideas that can be passed and put into action right away. Above all, these ideas recognize that the world has changed, and so must we.
Source: The Plan, by Rahm Emanuel, p. 52-53 , Jan 5, 2009

Political fundraiser & strategist, before running for House

The average House member came to Congress after becoming a respected community leader--a prominent attorney, perhaps, or a state senator. Emanuel, in contrast, had spent twenty years getting his hands dirty in politics--raising money, studying polls, crafting attacks, planning strategy. He had done this at a relatively low level--in high school he had walked the streets for former Chicago congressman Abner Mikva--and at the highest, as President Bill Clinton's senior advisor.
Source: The Thumpin': Rahm Emanuel, by Naftali Bendavid, Chapter 1 , May 8, 2007

Ran the Dems' DCCC House campaign after 2004 electoral loss

It was against the backdrop [of the 2004 electoral losses] that Nancy Pelosi, who'd been in Congress for 17 years and leader of the House Democrats for 2, called Rahm Emanuel, the volatile 2nd-term congressman from Chicago, and asked him to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Pelosi faced significant pressure to choose someone other than Emanuel to bring this about. Members of Congress valued seniority, and Emanuel, first elected just 2 years earlier, was a newcomer.

Pelosi chose Emanuel anyway. The two had known each other since 1987 when Pelosi won her first congressional race, and Pelosi was keenly aware of Emanuel's ability to raise money. Most important, Emanuel was known to be tireless, aggressive, and pushy. P

Source: The Thumpin': Rahm Emanuel, by Naftali Bendavid, Chapter 1 , May 8, 2007

2004: Planned four-year process to recapture House for Dems

In December 2004, [after the large Democratic electoral loss, Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel began work on the 2006 Democratic House campaign]. Emanuel warned Pelosi there was no way the Democrats could win the House in 2006. At best, he said, they would capture a few seats and perhaps finish the job in the 2008 election cycle. "Nancy, the truth is, rather than keep telling people we're going to take back the House, we have to start realizing this is a two-cycle process," Emanuel said. He reminded Pelosi that the Republicans had captured nine Democratic House seats in 1992, setting the stage for their 54-seat blowout two years later. Similarly, he thought, a handful of Democratic wins in 2006 could pave the way for retaking the House in 2008. Undaunted by this pessimistic forecast, Pelosi on January 9 officially named Emanuel to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, putting her future in his hands.
Source: The Thumpin': Rahm Emanuel, by Naftali Bendavid, Chapter 1 , May 8, 2007

Three pre-teen children: Zachariah, Ilana, and Leah

In December 2004, when Emanuel was appointed head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democrats had a bleak political outlook. Emanuel explained that [he accepted the difficult task because] it would be even harder for him to do it in future years, when his three young children--Zachariah, Ilana, and Leah--were older. "Given my background in politics, having worked at the DCCC and the White House and campaigns, I was never going to get through my life in the House and not do this," Emanuel said. "So I made a determination that I wanted to get it done while the kids are nine, seven, and six, rather than have this job when they're twelve, eleven, and ten. There's a difference. There is a higher-than-normal suicide rate among members' kids, when you look at it on a per capita basis. And nothing is that important. I'm going to be around for them."
Source: The Thumpin': Rahm Emanuel, by Naftali Bendavid, Chapter 1 , May 8, 2007

Supports Hyde Park Declaration of "Third Way" centrism.

Emanuel adopted the manifesto, "A New Politics for a New America":

As New Democrats, we believe in a Third Way that rejects the old left-right debate and affirms America’s basic bargain: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and community of all.