November 9th, 2008
12:50 PM ET
9 years ago

Emanuel brushes off 'hyper-partisan' charges

Rep. Rahm Emanuel says he will help Barack Obama work in a bipartisan way.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel says he will help Barack Obama work in a bipartisan way.

(CNN) - Rep. Rahm Emanuel insisted Sunday that he would help President-elect Barack Obama work in a bipartisan fashion, brushing off criticism that he would be a “hyper-partisan” chief of staff.

“President Obama is very clear, as you look at his career, both in the state senate, U.S. Senate, and the campaign, that we have to govern in a bipartisan fashion,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“The challenges are big enough that there's going to be an ability for people of both parties, as well as independents, to contribute ideas to help meet the challenges on health care, energy, tax reform, education,” he said.

Obama announced last week that he had chosen Emanuel to be his chief of staff.

The Republican National Committee put out a press release shortly thereafter that said, “Obama’s Broken Promise: After promising change, Obama selects hyper-partisan wedded to special interests.” Minority Leader John Boehner called Emanuel an “ironic choice” for a president-elect who promised to “govern from the center.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, however, agreed with Democrats and called Emanuel a “wise choice.”

"Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills. He can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together. He is well-suited for the position of White House chief of staff," the South Carolina senator said.

Graham said he and Emanuel worked together during the presidential debate negotiations, and "when we hit a rough spot, he always looked for a path forward."

Emanuel, who has a reputation as a tough political infighter, is credited with helping Democrats take control of the House in 2006.

He was elected to the House in 2002 and is the fourth highest-ranking member of the chamber's Democratic leadership. He worked on President Clinton's first presidential campaign and served as a White House adviser to Clinton.

The Chicago politician said Sunday that it will take a joint effort from leaders of both parties to tackle the challenges facing the country.

“Because the challenges … whether on the national security front or on the economic, are looming large, and they're going to require both parties and leaders of both parties, as well as independents, to offer up ideas to how to meet those challenges,” he said.

Emanuel also said he thought Sen. John McCain would be a “partner” in working to solve those problems.

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Rick

    How can anyone ever vote for a Republican again after seeing what the RNC consistently puts out towards the Democrats?

    November 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. Tom

    Do you Obama supporters really believe what you post? It is one thing to gloat over your huge victory (for which you deserve credit), but entirely another to now completely mischaracterize his first appointment. Emanuel is a far left partisan period. To suggest otherwise is simply intellectually dishonest, and points out the inability of anyone in your party to truly support bipartisan efforts.

    November 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. pat C.

    obama is our new president! people give it a break. let the man have time to show us what he can do. the republicans days of good old boys are over. they ended their error with disgrace in my opinion.
    if you can't say something positive about the landslide elect of obama then keep your mouth shut. the majority still rules in america and we have spoken. obama is the new generation and everyone should just get used to it!!!!

    November 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |


    November 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Truth Hurts

    The problem here is that Obama campaigned on "Change" and clearly, change is not even a consideration.

    If his major slogan had been "the economy stupid" or a host of other slogans, fine.

    Obama campaigned on Change, and clearly he has broken that promise before even getting into office, and will no doubt continue once there.

    Truth Hurts

    November 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Get over it

    The election is over and we all know Obama won. To all those non-supporters, those same ones who voted Bush in twice, I feel better with President Obama in office then having another Bush. Who has messed up the USA.

    Give him a chance- like you gave Bush. Even though you saw all the ways he messed up the first 4.

    November 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  7. lovable liberal

    If there were any doubts, this is what we're up against: A Republican Party that will never try to be constructive.

    November 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. Linda in Texas

    Unless a Republican was appointed, you would not be satisfied. Our country is going in a new direction and you will be left holding the bag full of liars, greed and crimes. A transparent government of the people, by the people and for the people is coming. American's are no longer afraid and confidence is building. We will turn the page on warmongering and lead the world with honesty and respectability. We are going to become self-reliant from the bottom up. Get accustomed to the idea that America is not a bunch of sheep to be fleeced ever again.

    November 9, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. Get it together Repubs

    It amazes me how the Repubs have already begun criticizing a President -elect before the man is actually sworn in. From criticizing his staff selection to charges of selling inaugural tickets to criticizing conversations with foreign leaders. I wish you Repubs would READ and stop being the party of NO-NOTHING. Obama is not selling inaugural tickets. If you read the article, it says that "240,000 free" tickets will be available. If you listened to him during the campaign, his position on missile defense and russia remains the same. So, stop complaining about not seeing CHANGE. Change happens when he is President and has full control. It is the same uneducated comments, opinions, and synical character that cost you the Congress and now the Presidency. Get over yourselves and embrace new ideas and the will of the New America!!.

    November 9, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. M. WINNERS

    The divisive politics of "fear, smear, mock and LIE" is the only thing the repug neocon fascists like Bhoner, Bachmann and Delay know.

    America would be much better off without them – they add nothing to the political dialogue but hate mongering and divert the postitive energy required by the times...

    November 9, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Cynthia; Bham

    The naysayers should sit back and watch how it is going to be done before they draw any conclusions. President Elect Obama did not get to the Office of President by not knowing who the best people were to surround himself with.

    November 9, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. Harry, IL is a sore loser

    Don't be a sore loser, Harry, IL. McCain lost – get over it. Either decide to move forward with our country, or get out of the way.

    November 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Matt

    I see nothing hyper-partisan about Rahm. He can best be described as center-left, which I think is exactly where the country is. But that is irrelevant anyway, he's the Chief of Staff, a glorified office manager. The people, by a resounding margin, elected Barack Obama. Do any of you actually research anything or do you just regurgitate what your radio talk show host tells you?

    Now is the time for Country First. Go to and make all of your ideas heard.

    November 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Dr. Mary T.

    What's truly ironic is that the RNC should feel it still has the credibility to criticize anything about Barack Obama, such as his choice for Chief of Staff. You lost big time, RNC, so get over it and go spend your Time in the Wilderness gracefully or it will be even longer.

    November 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. go away mongers- Ventura,CA

    The RNC "immediately put out a statement"- Will they NEVER learn?Knee jerk smears are NOT the answer and that's why they LOST!

    November 9, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Paul

    Richard, please excuse(postpone) your investigations for some rainy day in the future when there is nothing more impt. to do. The majority of your country- men and women agreed to give the Demorcrats a chance to do better than John and Sarah and George. Hang on to your towel....

    November 9, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. karen

    my goodness. all you sad little republicans, wishing you could reincarnate Ronald Regan. Take a leap into the future,it's here now. Yes We Did!

    November 9, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Mike, Cleveland, Ohio


    Reagan, the best president ever??? I really think you're inflating his legacy too much. Surely Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, and FDR had way more problems to deal with than Reagan. Trigger happy Reagan went on a spending spree, thus raising the national debt considerably, by 20%. Sounds familiar to GWB, who doubled our national debt in 8 years. Reagan was a good president, but he doesn't hold a candle to Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, or FDR.

    November 9, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Dealt, Portugal

    Boehner and the RNC seem not so much to have already forgotten the lesson as show no hope of learning it. Didn't republicans use the slogan "Country first"? Just empty words, it seems.

    November 9, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. carolo

    We could actually wait and see what Obama's cabinet will be? He has elected no other members so far except for Emmanuel and already everyone is complaining. We gave Bush 8 years. Could you manage to give Obama at least time to pick his cabinet?

    November 9, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Edward

    Emanuel’s strong family connections to Israel, and the fact that his father was a member of a militant Zionist group, and also his dual citizenship, and strong sport for AIPAC which explains his sport for Iraq war brings a lot of doubts to my mind about his real intentions. I voted for Obama but I hope his other choices will be wiser and he doesn’t let our country’s interests be influenced by foreign country lobbyists.

    November 9, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Bruinsbeer

    I will treat Obama the same way the left treated George Bush.

    November 9, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Indiana voter

    Richard, you have a right to be on here as much as anyone, so keep reading and keep posting. I am seeing now how the same people that used Bush as punching bag are getting a taste of their own medicine and they don't like it. Now all of a sudden, after eight years of bashing Bush, we are supposed to be nice to Obama and support him. It doesn't work that way. Obama is now going to be the official punching bag for a while and you Omamanites will see your leader for what he truly is: a politician, plain and simple.

    November 9, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. katiec

    It is sad that so many cannot move on and start thinking about the survival of our country.
    The me against he/she has gone on too long and especially in
    politics. We are in a crucial position, the first of such nature
    for our country.
    The politicans, parties and voters have to unite.
    Let us all work towards making our country as great as it
    once was.
    Let's demand the politicians finally do their jobs and work
    Let us once again be the proud United States of America.

    November 9, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. YayObama

    30-m-PA-Democrat-voted McCain:

    Aren't you a democrat too?? I would be just as bitter as you if I voted for McShame and Failin Palin and lost. You should've stayed with the Richard, you should get over it. There's nothing you can do about it now

    November 9, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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