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. Beth

    Govern from the center....we will see. Will see how he helps Obama put into play the community service for all middle-school, high school, and college age students. I hope that all 18-year-olds who voted for Obama will get their boots on and get ready for some real work.....Obama is asking for their help.....Check out and see what Obama wants from all......Enjoy.....Obama is President Select and will divide the nation and the world......It wont be long before no one will be owning up that they voted for this socialist....

    November 9, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Paula

    I love CNN too... I am glad they weren't afraid to expose the RNC propagamda machine... fear, hate, half truths... Keep up the good work.

    November 9, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. hometowndemocrat

    What an example we set for the rest of the world. Obama has only been the president elect......(and I stress the word elect) for 5 days and the republicans are already tearing him to peices. Got to say, you guys are making yourselves sound very petty and small minded.

    November 9, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Raphyel Rosby

    Its amazing how quickly people latch onto something. I mean Obama has not even been sworn in yet, and the republicans are already starting characterizing. At least Bush had 8 years to muck up everything. Obama has not had one day as president and they are belly aching. I always find it amazing that the republicans have stopped mentioning Bush at this point. How childish can one be. Let the man be sworn in and actually be president before you go jumping the gun....I think thats more than reasonable.

    November 9, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Steve Turner

    The only GOP reps complaining about Emanuel are the ones that never bothered with working outside GOP lines in the first place. I guess they fear being shown up by having to work with people they despise.

    Too bad.

    November 9, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Jose

    There goes again the GOP they dont seem to have learned the lesson from Mc cains defeat. Stop the partisanship attacks and work for the future of the country. Thats why the GOP will keep lossing from now on.... and BIG BABY Rohde get over it grow up and smell the coffee I know what bitterness feels like but if you are not careful it will corrode away whatever you have of common sense which I surmise there is not much left

    November 9, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. Scott

    Everybody's talking about how Emmanuel governs from the left, but nobody mentions the fact that he's part of an Israeli family. Obama was widely criticized for not having the support for Israel, and then he goes and chooses somebody who's family is from there. So there goes that criticism, might as well bash the guy for being a Democrat. Republicans have to just admit that they don't like Obama, they DON'T want to work with him. This is supposed to be government for the people, and whether or not Obama was telling the truth, he made that perfectly clear. That's why he was elected. This has not been a government for the people in recent years, it's been a government for themselves.

    November 9, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Thats some bi-partisanship?

    The VERY FIRST appointment Obama makes is this guy? I hope we don't see any more "dead fishes" sent to people he doesn't like.

    Look, I hope Rahm's a changed man. Right now, thats all I have left to hope for. Obama won and the people put him there.

    But I have every reason to doubt today that "bi-partisanship" is alive and well. Rahm in the past was anything but.

    To all you dems stating get over it, I am. I want Obama to succeed. But right now Obama has chosen someone that IN THE PAST was about as bi-partisan as Rush Limbaugh. And if you truly want conservatives to come work with you, it doesn't matter what liberals think in this case. The ONLY way you get true bi-partisanship is to listen to the concerns of the party not in power and NOT beat them over the head.

    This appointment was a poor start.

    November 9, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. ck1


    One thing I think you should consider in your quoting poll statistics is that most anyone you ask would consider themselves "middle-of-the-road" or "conservative". In fact, it's likely because no one cares to be perceived as a "liberal" due to its negative connotations. I would consider myself to be "middle-of-the-road" since I can look at a subject objectively and see what is best for everyone, not just myself, and form my own opinion. However, most individuals would consider me to be a "liberal" because of my pro-choice and pro-equal rights (GLBT included) stance. I would say that there is a flaw in the question itself that renders the result very misleading. It's kinda like asking whether you consider yourself a racist or not. Your result will be artificially low as noone wants to identify themselves as being racist. Get my point?

    As for Obama, America has spoken, he won, and we must all accept the fact that he is President. Pray for him, do not beat him down before he ever takes office and do not be judgemental about his ability to run the country without ever seeing him in office. We've had to endure the poor decisions of other Presidents, past and present, but we have also benefitted from their good decisions. Give him a chance, don't pre-judge.

    November 9, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Franky

    "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."

    Thank you Senator, thank you! It looks like the GOP don't get how long detention is...if you know what I mean.

    No offense to the GOP but if they wanna talk how they should govern then they better go back time and make sure they win this election...

    And by the way, tell Rush Limbaugh who the hell is talking to him? No offense to him and to "America's people" but last time I checked, this is the same guy who urged his supporters to vote for Hillary during the Democratic if he wants to talk about unity and working together, he better look twice..

    No offense to Conservatives but no wonder you guys have an identity crisis...

    November 9, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. PG

    Republicans had 8 years and look where that got us. No need to explain anything to them. President-Elect Obama can move forward with forming his adminstration.

    November 9, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Central Scruitinizer

    Off subject , but does antone else think it might be a good idea to "rent " our military out to Iraq? Say, 10-15 billion a month? I just read that they really want us to stay for the equipment and logistical help so lets put our military might to use for the economy

    November 9, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. s

    Repubs–you lost. Get over it. Don't continue your negativity. Work together with the Dems and Independs, our country needs EVERYONE.

    November 9, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Elizabeth

    Oh my dear Melissa, pointing fingers all the time. It seems to me
    that Barack Obama did nothing but point fingers to the BUSH
    administration for 8 years and during his campaign instead of letting
    that president just do his job. Poor Barack, we are not supposed
    to expose the truth about him, but all the others, it is ok to bash and

    November 9, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Anthony

    Tom, Emanuel may be partisan but calling him far-left is just ridiculous.

    November 9, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. MikeH

    First of all, Obama and Emanuel DO NOT APOLOGIZE OR EXPLAIN!

    The Republican Hate Party can just go die for all I care. They don't deserve any consideration. They are already trying to stir up divisiness and strife, and in these times, this is un-American. The Republican Party shows that they hate Democracy, they hate America, as it was envisioned by Jefferson.

    We have work to do. either help out or get out of the way, and for the negative hate-monger Republicans, just STFU!

    November 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Obama saves the world

    who said change means BI-partisan, the last i checked change means a different approach or ideas to a situation

    November 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. mo

    richard your comment tells me that....a lot about you as a person, i am not even going to get to your level of ignorance. fine call obama hussein from now on, it doesn't make a different he is the president of the United states, he is your President. and if this makes you feel somewhat unsettled, i suggest you migrate to Alaska.

    November 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. MikeH

    To Truth Hurts;

    The psych ward just called, you need to return to your dormitory anfd take your meds.

    November 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Franky

    I just wanna say last thing and if the GOP is gonna have that attitude and start making judgments, then I'm gonna write to my boy and don't bother with these people!! Let me remind the GOP that they can't be hypocrites...and I'll make them dream again just like in this election.

    All I'm saying is maybe these guys better also look in the mirror and see if they can make a better judgment of themselves...since everyone knows the GOP only do that. With that attitude, no offense GOP but maybe you better go to church and tell God what your saying and see if he agrees...

    November 9, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Flushing Queens NY

    Wow Richard you sure did cause a stink on this thread. Why would you nit pick about these things when Bush did such a bad job as President. Seems like you just dont want America to be successful. You people!

    November 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  22. James

    Frat party is over morons go home. Richard, this is what happens when you actually believe the crap thats told to you by your even dumber friends and party. Keep attacking CNN everyone, your all pathetic, CNN has done nothing that Fox hasnt done these last eight years, except of course lead us to war by rallying all you morons in the South to think this was WW2 or something. If anything we needed a news organization to take our side i mean honestly, Fox is perfect for you Frat clowns, its got all the ditzes you like, and all the jocks for that matter, so your all set, stop whining go turn on Fox news and comfort yourself. LOL!!!! These people are going to attack pretty much all of Obamas choices for a few reasons but the biggest reason is history has proven these people wrong, they cant admit it and probably never will, so anything to be proven right theyll go for, grasping at straws. Now we truly see who the Un American people really are.Tell ya they really thought they were on to something with the socialist thing, its funny if you have an education past 2nd grade. Unfortunately.....lmao

    November 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |

    I applaud the President Elects choice for chief of staff... Itrs the chief of staff's duty to "GET THE JOB DONE"... run the white house and the legislative agenda in a nuts and bolts fashion... I do not know much of this person but the fact that he has elbows and is not afraid to use them for friend or foe is fine with me... I spent many working years running growing companies from a COO type position. There is not time to " form a committy" the time to act is now... I feel this man will deligate the work load to those that can move the adgenda... those who fail to do so will be told get the job done or get out of the way.

    Should that advice go unheaded they will feel the elbow.. friend or foe.

    Yup its that old(69yr)-retired-white guy from Ma. former Republican


    November 9, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Sue

    As our NEW president may take more than a year...more than a term to set this country right.
    The most important thing is that WE, that US guys...all of us..have to work together.
    Unfortunatly those who continue to be the grouches will, like a co-worker who doesn't get it, will find themselves sidelined, and to be honest..that would be a great shame.
    We're all americans and yes all Americans...

    November 9, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. JK

    so much for peace in palestine. such a obviously polarizing selection in terms of middle east.

    also, it is very interesting that there is not single mention about RE's father involvement in Irgun. his father is only mentioned as pediatrician. i guess liberal media also has his own biases.

    November 9, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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