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. Margaret

    I think he'll be a good Chief of Staff, but I also know he is as partisan as the day is long.

    Time will tell.... And there's another big election coming up in two years, another opportunity to remove those in Congress who are not listening to and representing their constituents.

    November 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Roger from CA

    The only ones acting "partisan" are the wingnut hooligans and "dittoheads" that are screaming about Obama's few decisions he's made less than a week after Election Day.

    I think an essential element of "bipartisanship" is to allow the new President-Elect to actually start to govern before making criticisms.... and limiting those criticism to LEGITIMATE, SUBSTANTIVE disagreements on POLICY. And engaging ONLY in civil, respectful discourse.

    I think everyone is sick of the furious nastiness of the last 20 years or so in politics.

    November 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. J Williamson

    This Republican indignation over this appointment (from some quarters) is silly given some of the Pit Bulls they've (Repubs) had in the past. "Ike" told his vice-president (Richard Nixon) that a "president needs a chief of staff who is a tough SOB and can say no." Richard Nixon followed his advice after his election in 1968. So what? He was wise to do so. The elections over and if Dems don't stand tall they'll be crushed.

    November 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. AMY

    @ BETH..





    November 9, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Jay


    Funny how you are already complaining about how if the Republican constituency actually decides to stop with the partisan sniping and allegations and actually tries to help return this country to greatness, or if they stay mired in the politics of anger and fear.

    Maybe if the Democrats wanted this to happen, they should have followed this advice under Bush. Democrats and the left have hated on Bush and the Republicans ever since Bush first got elected. We are not going to forget that hate, we plan on treating Obama the exact same way your side treated Bush. We have no interest in unifying.

    Maybe next time a Republican gets elected president, if you Democrats and leftists would give him a chance, we on the right would do the same when one of your candidates wins the presidency. But you set the tone by way you treated Bush, and now we are going to react accordingly. Forget unity, ain't gonna happen.

    November 9, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. MK

    Can it get more "hyper-partisan" then the last four years? These jeolous GOP members are really going to have to learn some patience, President Obama is a much smarter man than W and he likes to hear all sides.

    Oh and please GOP, run Newtie in the 2012 election! He'll be a real treat for us Dems. We would love to take him on.

    November 9, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. WhippingStick

    Richard is clearly no Rohde Scholar.

    Roswell is calling you.

    November 9, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. David Newport, OR

    The GOP lost across the board because of their inability to work across the party lines. 56% of Americans saw this and voted accordingly. If the Democrats put up good legislation and the GOP fights it, the 56% will grow and in two years we will have the 60 in the Senate AND the supermajority in the House. Then, the GOP will be relegated to the history books. That choice is theirs. If argue for your limitations, so they shall be yours. If you believe there can be no concensus, there will none. The Democrats are looking for cooperation, yet all they get back is the partisan BS.

    November 9, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Jack in DC

    To Jay

    You are one dumb person. This is not a TIT-4-TAT thing. This is about rescuing the US from Bush's extreme mismanagement of everything from the war to the economy to energy. When a president is successful, America is successful. It's a pity we still have people with peanut brains like you who can't get it through their heads! What exactly are you trying to conserve anyway? Torture? messed up economy? unnecessary war? racism? fear mongering? what? use your brain for once and reason based on the facts not ideals.

    November 9, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Kasey

    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.”

    My God, when are they going to give it up? OBAMA WON! YOU LOST! Suck it up and get stuff done already!

    November 9, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. James of CT

    Obama is a very smart person, probably smarter than any president in history. So choosing Emanual to get things down quickly is probably a wisest choice considering how the economy is right now. We need to fix this economy quickly. Unlike, Mccain who chose Sarah Palin without vetting her properly and thoughly, Obama and Obama campaign planned everything ahead of time. And Obama has done everything right with alot of thought and planning. Obama is showing what real leadership is and people like the loser GOP should stop complaining for their lack of intellect.

    November 9, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. julio

    I am putting my "Country First" and as such I will not cry a river rather hope this country moves ahead under President Elect Obama. Millions of unemployed Americans depend on his success. We can't afford to fail this time and the President Elect needs your help and support. I for one intend to give it to him without reservation even though I did not vote for him. if you out there are true Americans then you would do the same.

    November 9, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Mike, Syracuse NY

    You Dems kill me. You call for unity behind the new president, then go on to bash Reps. How in your little pea brains do you think insulting us will make us want to unite? Perhaps you forgot how you 'united' behind Bush in 2000, all the way to the Supreme Court.

    November 9, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Joan

    @ jay...

    You are sooooooooooo negative...all of your blogs....sometimes it's best to just shut up if you have nothing positive to say!!! Didn't you mother teach you that!! All that negativity you have is going to keep your life miserable....Let it go and move on...President-Elect Obama is going to be the President of the United States come 1/20/09...look in the mirror and practice saying it...cause it isn't nothing you or the rest of the Obama haters can do...the majority of the American peope made the choice....

    May God Bless all you Haters!!!

    Cnn please post...thank you!!

    November 9, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Dave

    Republicans continue their obstructionist tactics. Instead of name calling and grand-standing why not actually give some thought to the problems at hand and suggest solutions. You'll soon have a President who will listen and think about what's best for the country.

    November 9, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. Dawn

    Who really cares who is the Chief of Staff...Lets get together and bring this Country to where it was over 8 years ago and bring jobs back into the our Country. You don't want to get a pink slip right before Christmas...So lets see who this man is made of and get moving in recouping our reputation in this world!


    November 9, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Jay

    This is the third time I have tried to put through what a partisan hack Emmanual is, how can we believe he is not the most partisan hack there is, remember he said "**** the Republican Party.", I know some in here do not want that posted, but it is true. Obama has no intention of reaching across to disagreeing points of view, he just wants to silence them.

    November 9, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Hope

    Rahmbo is the man, great team with Obama.

    November 9, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Eugene

    I love the fact that Limbaugh is calling it an "Obama recession". Gosh darnit, Rush, now I remember that you dropped out of college before they could have taught you that Bush is still in office until January, 2009.

    November 9, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Marty Curry

    I can't believe that the republicans would bad mouth the president elect. That is so unpatriotic. In the time of war it is important to stand behind the president and give him the support here at home so we can stand up and be Americans. Sound Familiar? The best part of Obama winning is that I get to use all of the Republican Patriotic Diarreha that the right has espoused for the last 8 years against here goes...

    By not supporting the President you are sending the wrong message to the terrorists....If you don't like how America is being governed you can leave...I hear Ahmedenijad is looking for some new recruits...Maybe you should just go move to Mexico you Unpatriotic Republicans...

    (this is great!!...cmon...join in!!!)

    November 9, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. offwallst

    TO SETH:

    lets see how better off you are after 4 years from now you liberal imbecile!!!!!!!

    November 9, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    The RNC are and it was expected to take this lose to a whole new level. What ever an Obama Presidency will do the RNC will rip it to shreds and they will make sure that the new administration get's nothing done. R. Emmanuel is the right choice because he is tough, he won't take any you know what from the RNC, and Pres. Obama has to keep his focus on all the problems he is inherriting. As long as the RNC uses terms like Socialist Party to spread their venim and keep insisting that Pres. Obama will raise taxes, they will destroy themselves.

    November 9, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Kathryn Woods

    Well the election is over and the outcome was let me tell you why I believe so.When McCain picked Palin for his running mate,he was hoping to pick up the votes of all the women who supported Hilary Clinton. BIG..Hugh Mistake.By ,he insinuated that women are picking a ill-equipped, clearly not ready female, he insituated that women are nothing more than drones.Vote for the woman, no matter how inept she may be.Fatal error on his part.We are intelligent, articulate individuals who don't cast our vote merely on the sex of the candidate.Now when Obama didn't pick Hilary as his running mate, I thought he made a critical error.Then I realized it was sheer genius.He wasn't patronizing the women's vote.He understood that we're intelligent,thinking,analitical people,who weigh both sides, and come to a (for me)obvious conclusion.Good for you Barack. Thank you for realizing that we are intelligent, free thinking Americans!!!!GOD BLESS AMERICA

    November 9, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Leslie

    Just wanted to add that I'm in full support of Rahm – I grew up in the same area where he attended grade and high school and am so proud of "our partisan" politicians from Illinois!! This is the type of leadership our country needs during these horrific times. We need to stand together! I've been in London a few weeks and getting all my news locally from here and it's such an exciting time to begin to be admired as a country again.

    November 9, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    We must get used to a president who can think, plan, and will surround himsellf with the best minds around, Democrat or Republican. Unlike Bush, Obama dosen't do anything without thinking it through first and listene to the experts for advice. His campaign shows that.

    November 9, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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