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. Bob

    He's bipartisan no doubt it. That's what scares me. The more I mull this appointment over, the more uncomfortable I am. Rham Emmanual is dangerous.

    November 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. 60 year old, white female for Obama

    Did all your naysayers READ the whole article?? The Republicans who will support bipartisanship like Lindsay Graham and Congressman Mendez (on Meet the Press today) support Obama's chpoice.

    The fact that Obama has been the President in waiting for FIVE days and bloggers are naysaying already indicates a lack of "country first", supporters of partisan politics and business as usual and the believers in rumours, speed before thought and opinions before fact..

    What a sad, pathetic way of viewing your country.

    November 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Jared

    Emmanuel may have been a hyper partisan but as chief of staff his current job is to get things done for Obama. He works for Obama not the Democratic party. I have a feeling that he was put in place to ensure that Reid and Pelosi don't get any ideas about trying to lead the country. The chief of staff is supposed to get things done for the president and both sides agree that Emmanuel gets things done. That's good enough for me for now, if he does turn out to be hyper partisan then he should be removed.

    November 9, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. andrea from MA

    rahm will be a great chief of staff !!!!!!!!!! he has chutzpah !!!!!!!!!!! that is what we need !!!!!!!!!!!! i am soooooooooooo happy after 8 years of depression !!!!!!!!!!!

    November 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Beverly, NYC

    The fact that Republicans could not wait to talk badly about the new Chief of staff tells me the president elect made the right choice. You LOST deal with it or it will be a long 4 years as the rest of the nation shouts you down. Hear that Hannity, Limbaugh, and the most vile CNN blog posters, yes I mean you Vig, Fred, Nightingale, Sharon Minnesota, Raymond Duke, Nobama, Truth Hurts and anyone else not with the program. many of you said you planned to leave the US if Obama was elected, I would gladly give up a weekend to help you pack before 1/20/09.

    November 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Alex

    I don't know much about Rep. Emanuel. But if from what I am hearing that he is a straight talker, tough, persistent and knows how to get things done then I like him. I like him better specially now that the Republicans are whining about him. I believe that indicates that their loopholes and lobbying parties would be kept in check. Pres – Elect Obama should surround himself with people who he can trust, who are very loyal to him, who are competent and who embodies what his goals are for his administration. Republicans will try time and time again to prove that Pres-Elect Obama is the wrong choice and the American-people was mistaken. Far right extremists will wish everyday including racists for Pres-Obama to fail or falter from his campaign promises. Rep Emanuel already fits this category perfectly for this reason alone. I think he is the right choice. As for Rush will be 4 long years of whining everyday of what Pres-Elect Obama is doing wrong. We need to supply him with ginger ale and some water to make sure he doesn't strain his voicebox.

    November 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Jack from California

    We have just witnessed the worst period of hyper partisanship by the GOP every witnessed in this country with a winner take all approach taken in 2000 by the republicans.

    Are they worried that they might have to give back some of their pork barrel shifting of federal dollars away from red states?

    I think the GOP needs to hold it's collective tongue and give the new administration a chance to fix the mess the GOP got us into.

    November 9, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Dan

    My goodness!! its barely a week since President Obama got his deserved mandate from the beautiful American populace.....would you please give the guy a break, the dust is yet to settle....grumpy repubs need to shut up and wait for Obama's Presidential report card after 4 yrs....and guess who'll grade him, not you pathetic GOP whiners, but the people....Power is the People's......i don't think the legislative arm needs bitter, grumpy, silly fingers.....its time for the GOP and their notorious partisan supporters to accept defeat graciously like their "Maverick" and give a helping hand in moving this country forward!

    November 9, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. NB

    My republican friends,President Obama wants wise people in his cabinet . That means no nonsence. Do you want him to have people like Rick davis or Carl Rove to be part of his administration? We had enough... We need intelligent people...... Try to digest that ......................

    November 9, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. R Kendil

    Obama's selection of Emmanuel has put paid to at least two of the smear campaigns against him; what self-respecting terrorist-loving Muslim would select a Jewish man as Chief of Staff?

    November 9, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Texas Teacher

    Actually.... the problem is that NO matter what Obama does, the Republicans WILL have criticism. This is before he is even in office! Seriously..... wait until he is sworn in and SEE WHAT he DOES! The people he chooses to work with him will follow HIS policies. Unlike Bush, Obama is qualified to run the office AND make the decisions.

    All you have to do is look at how he ran his campaign! His demeanor is such that all these criticisms are not going to rattle him. After all he went through in the campaign, I am quite sure he is prepared to deal with the attacks and dirty politics of the opposition.

    YOU LOST.... Republicans, face up to it. Suck it up and prepare to be part of the solution, not the problem. Because YOU MADE THE PROBLEM. Your policies with the complete support of the Republican congress got us into this mess! Now shut your mouths and let OBAMA work on the hole you have dug us into!

    November 9, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. No Name

    He maybe no hyper-partisan, but he is a rock solid neocon. What message did Obama think he was sending with this appointment?

    November 9, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. former gop

    Hey, you poor losers, "You're either with us or against us." If you're against us, then according to your buddy George W, you're an unpatriotic traitor.

    November 9, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. maurice

    i voted for john mcain. i will never regret that vote or will i take flack for doing so. i will give obama 1 year from the time he takes office and if things arent better then he should step aside and let biden take over. of course we all know the latter wont happen...and pat c. as far as a landslide i wouldny call 52% to 46% of the popular voye a landslide. and if the people who say bush stole the election because of the popular vote. i can say that obamas election was far from a landslide as far as the popular vote goes.

    November 9, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. T.O. for Obama

    Trust President Elect Obama to make wise choices.....during the campaign while his opponents were belittling his community organizer experience – it was at that time -that he was using that very same experience to spearhead a brilliant campaign. It overwhelmed all of them – but Obama is too decent to expound on their naivete.

    November 9, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Janet

    You guys are bashing Obama before he is in office. Look he is the President-elect and he can't do jack until Bush get his azz out ot the White House. Give it a rest and remember if McCain/Palin was there we wouldn't be acting like it is a crime. Give the man time to take office and pick his people. I know you Republicans are upset but you guys had control for years and didn't do jack so give Obama a chance to prove himself.

    November 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. Dean from Maine

    Note to the RNC: negativity does not win minds nor lost the presidency and the senate, you turned on Gov. Palin and now you want to attack every single action of our president elect...keep digging a hole for yourself, you may find true ignorance after all.

    November 9, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. KeepingGov'tInCheck

    Oh come ON, GOP..... What happened to throwing your full weight of the white house behind Obama???

    Are you guys still campaigning???? And STOP being scared of 'foreigners' .... that's what makes us American!!!

    I bet if Milky White Bar was elected chief of staff theyd be more silent....

    November 9, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Obama is the one going to be guiding this ship and to think that his style and substance won't be a big change over Bush is simply naive. Will Obama be surrounding himself with experienced people. Of course. I'd be scared if he didn't. But that doesn't mean there won't be chage. Lets face it, Obama has already talked very candidly about the problems facing the country, something Bush and crew never did.

    November 9, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. JJ

    Well we can sit here and write all kinds of stupid and idiot remarks but that want help to get Obama in the White House to January. We only have one President at a time so sit back and relax. The Republicans will not lift a finger now to do anything while Bush is in office. Read the papers and stop watching CNN and FOX.

    November 9, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. Ron

    Ok, when Lindsey Graham, whom I can't possibly fathom being partisan, calls Emmanuel a good choice, then I'm happy. Lindsey Graham worked very closely with Sen. McCain (who I admit I'm back to adoring now that Palin's gone home) throughout this election season, and was not kind to President-elect Obama during the campaign. For him to recognize that Emmanuel has and will cross party lines, and to recognize that he did so even during the election process, means that the ultra far-right Republicans (of which I consider Graham a member) need to get over themselves.

    November 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Emmanuel is the wrong pick

    Emmanuel says he is no hyper partisan. What a laugh! Next to Emmanuel, Howard Dean looks like a Republican lover.... Emmanuel is the wrong choice - and it all bu guarantees that Obama will have a bumpy road trying to jam his platform through --

    November 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Texas Teacher

    It was REAL.... and sometimes it was FUN! But it was not REAL FUN or otherwise we would NOT have VOTED YOU OUT!

    Suck it up, Republicans, be part of the solution! Because if you do NOT, then you continue to be part of the PROBLEM!

    We are all sick of listening to you whine and lie and attack! Give it a break, for God's sake! Seriously!

    November 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. seth

    The RNC and John Boehner would accuse any democrat of being "hyper-partisan" because they can't help themselves. It's a little partisan to come out swinging immediately, accusing the president-elect of breaking promises when all he did was appoint a chief of staff. This is going to be a long 4 years of obstructionist republican attacks. Thank goodness the democrats have a majority in both houses.

    November 9, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Bill Charlotte,NC

    If "Rush The Pill Junkie" and the extreme "right wing" do not like him, then he is definitely the right person for the job.

    November 9, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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