PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday shrugged off perceived criticism in a video introduction played the night before when President Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
The video details some of Obama’s tough times in office, and Emanuel is mentioned during the Obamacare segment; the narrator says Emanuel, as chief of staff, urged Obama to back off on the health-care law.
The video, featured during a lengthy introduction before Obama’s primetime address Wednesday night, sought to show that Obama was “always willing to lose in order to do the right thing” and highlighted his push for the Affordable Care Act.
“Rahm Emanuel came to him and said, ‘You’re going to have to pull the bill because if you push this legislation, you will lose in 2012,’” the narrator says.
Social media users took that as a jab at Emanuel, who had no speaking role at the convention despite his close ties to both Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
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But speaking to reporters during the Illinois delegation breakfast on Thursday, Emanuel dismissed the criticism, saying he was proud to work for both Obama and President Bill Clinton, and that his views on the healthcare act have “been in books.” He said universal healthcare had been attempted by “10” presidents or so, and that he advised Obama to prioritize financial stability and changing the regulation of banks.
“I’ve been honest about it because when the Supreme Court made a ruling I said then, Thank God he didn’t listen to my advice. I said then… This is all recorded,” Emanuel said.
“I said this is going to be a very tough thing. I’ve been very clear. Go first with financial reform, then we can do healthcare. First we did the auto industry then the stimulus bill as well as the financial stability and then also the troops on Iraq.
“I said if you had to weigh the big three, I would go right to regulating the banks and the financial reform that was necessary so we do not get what we just got with the recession, and I said that the consequences — here’s what happened under President Clinton, he asked for my advice and as chief of staff you have to give your advice and when he made his decision, you go there and you followed it. I executed to get him the votes to pass national healthcare. You have to give fresh, honest advice.”
Emanuel said the choices were “very tough,” but that he gave Obama what he wanted: a “fresh, honest assessment.”
“Both wanted honest opinions about weighing the consequences between policy and politics, and I gave my view about what the consequences were and the choices you made,” Emanuel said.
As for Emanuel’s less than flashy role at the convention: “A lot of people don’t have a speaking role. Don’t worry about it.”
Just two members of the Illinois delegation are speaking at the convention this year, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Emanuel has been to several conventions, but has only spoken at one.