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. Anne Hamil

    The GOP is insanely spoiled and hypocritical. All week they have been talking about how they intend to BLOCK pretty much anything that comes from the Democratic side of the aisles of Congress, before anything has even started to come from the new Congress in place come January, and they have the audacity to start crying about Rahm Emmanuel? Rahm Emmanuel's job will be to support the agenda of the President, not some personal agenda. It is unfortunate that the GOP has made it their top priority to ensure that nothing gets done, if it has Democratic support, regardless of the value such things may have for the people of this country. Shame on the GOP. If they stand in the way of important change, they will surely see their ranks shrink even further in two years.

    November 9, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Keith

    It's like Newt Gingrich is running the GOP. I guess hyper-partisans like Graham sound like the "voice of reason" when you're coming from far-right wack-job land.
    By the way, I think Emanuel (great name, loved the movies) is a hammer directed more at the Democrats on the hill than the Republicans...keep them from overturning Obama's applecart, doncha know?

    November 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. RB NJ

    Ignorance is still IGNORANT.....Richard Rhode,OFFWALLST.your are a dying breed but,you do not understand why? Lying and negativity will not win you elections in 21st century!! Those days will leave when GW Bush let's the door hit him in the arse.

    November 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Washiongton Observer

    From the mouth of the most partissan liberal in DC – why would anybody believe this hatchet man?

    November 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. nana

    Here is a news flash for all the Macain-Palin supporters–YOU LOST-
    get over it move on and start supporting President Obama.

    The true colors of the GOP is now starting to reveal itself although I have known it from the start of this campaign. Palin deserves everything she is getting from the "liberal media"-she blew the election with her lies and hate speaches. Hopefully we have heard the last of her. Go field dress a moose!!!!

    November 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Silence Dogood

    Richard Rohde – don't worry – it is still OK to question the government. But this might not last much longer so go for it!

    Obama promised change but he obviously can drop that nonsense now. Get a tough "insider" as chief, and get busy with politics as usual.

    There is no change – you have been lied to – again.

    November 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Mike, Vancouver

    Yes Richard and what about Eve and the forbidden apple. How far do you want to go back. Turn yourself around and go forward. The world won't wait for you if you keep wallowing in your self pity. It is time for you to perform in a no-partisan manner, you will feel better about it.

    If you want to be divisive, there are other sports, like math.

    November 9, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Dave

    What a surprise, Obama decides to pander to the same old Washington special interests. This is definitely throwing a bone to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) as Rahm is 200% pro-Israel. We need neutrality not further, lob sided policies. Oh by the way, in the 1991 Gulf War, Rahm chose to serve in the military, but not the US but for Israel! What a patriot!

    November 9, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Zeke

    Looks like the left wants a one-party system. Look at the condition of those countries with one party control. I like having good checks and balances in our government. I thank God that the Democrats did not get 60 in the Senate. That might be the only thing that saves this country.

    November 9, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. observer

    Looks like Republicans are extremist and full of hatred. Election is over and majority people have given the mandate to Barack Obama.

    Do respect the people's choice and decision.

    It is so unprofessional to try to condemn (instead of working together) even before seeing the results.

    November 9, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Chris from St. Louis

    I like this guy! He is a doer ...

    November 9, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Jaye

    Emanuel will get the job done (no matter what the republicans say about him, he is the man for the job).
    It's time everyone comes together to support our new president and our country... nothing is more important at this time.
    AND, to the people like Ben Stein and Bohener and the other big mouthed naysayers, I say "shut up" and help get our country back on track and let the bickering go.
    I am very happy and optimistic for our country and sick of the partisian nonsense in Washington.
    Peace out, people!

    November 9, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. California Gold

    President Elect Obama could have selected Jesus Christ himself as Chief of Staff and that would have triggered criticism. Fact is Emanuel is a politician who knows how to deliver. Maybe he won't be named sweetheart of the year. That's not why he was appointed. Seems the magnitude of this nation's problems ought to be reason to avoid "hyper-partisan" charges. I like to think those days of shallow politicking have been swept out with Bush & Cheney & Rove. The Richard Rohdes of the world will always cling to the absurd. That's why he is utterly absurd and irrelevant.

    November 9, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. Truth Doesn't Hurt

    The problem here is that many Republicans are a little teary-eyed and red-faced that McCain lost. Deal with it. And if you say "cleary, change isn't even a consideration" based on the appointment of one person as chief of staff – not only is that incredibly short-sighted, but also that reeks of being a petty sore loser.

    November 9, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Anne Hamil

    The GOP seems to believe that anyone who is not a Republican is "hyper partisan". Their sickening embrace of one party uber alles rule has turned this country into an oligarchy/monarchy and taken us so far away from democracy that even some intelligent people are afraid of dialogue, of intellect, of progress and even of necessary change that will come from doing things differently (read: not like the GOP hardliners). The GOP should be ashamed for openly condemning and warring against the clear will of the majority in the country. Republicans: splinter the party already, let Palin lead the crazy far right and let the intelligent, non-ideological Republicans work for the common good with their Democratic colleagues, for the sake of the country, if not the world.

    November 9, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Erik

    Man, these GOPers are certainly something else...

    Does the word "entitlement" come to anyone else's mind when they talk about the way the Washington or Obama's cabinet should be formed now??
    It's absolutely absurd, they are like the kid at the candy store demanding anything that they can get their hands on and then crying when it doesn't go their way.
    They claim that Rahm is way too "liberal" and isn't showing how Obama wants to lead from the center....well, when has the last EIGHT YEARS been run from the center?? Republicans, i'm sorry, but you all dropped the ball big time. And now, it's time to give some other ideas a chance! And if they aren't ideas that you like, well, get over it!! You have no room to say anything when your ideas and policies have failed....the Democratic party doesn't owe you any favors or are entitled to nothing! You blew's time to suck it up and see what can come of this new presidency, without judging it before it even begins!

    November 9, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Zeke

    By the way, Emanuel, it is President-elect Obama, NOT President Obama. You can call him President after he is sworn in, unless the electoral college has a sudden flash of inspiration in December.

    (Note to the Obamabots who don't understand this: the President is elected by the college of electors, not the voters)

    November 9, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Fed

    It's about time we kick out the right wing wackos that have ruined this country.

    Keep them as far from decision making as possible.

    November 9, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. elvera

    Some people are so hateful and narrow-minded that regardless what President-elect Obama will do or say, they will oppose and viciously criticize. I believe these are the ones that McCain referred to as ‘my fellow prisoners’. Yes, you are prisoners of your hate, literally and figuratively. You are sitting in your jail cells and continuously spew lies, hate, and division. You do not care about our country and us, people, who suffered all these years. Crawl back to your cells, caves, etc. and shut up! Let us enjoy this moment and let decent people to work together with our President to build a better future for us and our children.
    Elvera, Grandmother in Texas

    November 9, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. S Callahan

    I'll start by saying I am a Republican that supported President elect Obama. I supported him because this country, this world, needs vision and needs the blinders of insanity removed. We have a world in need, hungry people, people without work, people living in a violent world and knowing nothing else, people that have known nothing but poverty with such vast resources meant to be shared but withheld from them. This is not the way the world is intended to be. We are our brothers keepers. So with that said, as a Republican, I would suggest that you a Republican or any other political party choice, honor you moral directive and find a way to be inclusive of everyone, set aside your pain , and work for a better nation, a better world.

    November 9, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. Jaye

    And another thing – the republican slime and smear machine that covered our nation during this election was a complete shame to our country. And that many of the republican leaders is still in that slime mode is truly shameful.
    Stop it! Work to rebuild our country instead of the campaign to keep tearing it down.

    November 9, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. melinda in NV

    I'm a little sick of the finger pointing that Bush is wholly responsible for the economic mess. It's been proven over and over that the housing mess started because of Clinton wanting everyone to see their American dream of owning a house – no matter what cost to the rest of us. So here we are, and just because it fell apart on someone elses watch doesn't make them wholly responsible. The economy is too big and complicated to push onto one party or man. Get a clue folks.

    November 9, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. andy

    I am thinking maybe we should do a poll on solar placement panels on all foreclosure homes that the government buyout…Place a flat tax on the property to be divided by the government and utilities…Open factories to build equipment…Then pay for the labor to help to stimulate the economy. In turn sell the extra energy to third world countries until everyone in a national coalition gets environment friendly…Also cut mortgage loans in half to keep people in those properties to keep the income circulating until the owner catches up like a pick a pay with flexible arrear interest rates depending on how much you pay your interest rates adjust…Just a little food for thought…

    Andy Sacramento California

    November 9, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Paula

    How has he broken his promise... give him a chance.

    November 9, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    It's kind of like basing your whole campaign on experience and then choosing a high-profile vice president-pick who has less than 2 years of it.
    There have been no presidential actions in the Obama presidency yet.

    January 20.

    Truth hurts.

    November 9, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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