WASHINGTON — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, making the case Sunday on “Meet the Press” for President Obama’s reelection, went on the offensive with a sound bite summarizing Obama’s first term.
“General Motors is alive and well and Osama bin Laden is not,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel, who was Obama’s first chief of staff, spoke after host David Gregory highlighted a network poll showing only 31% of respondents said they were better off since Obama took office and 69% said they were worse off or in the same place.
Emanuel said Obama clearly understands the frustration Americans feel that the economy is not moving fast enough and is working on that. He said people also were frustrated by Washington’s inability to move forward and by society’s two sets of rule books, one for the “more fortunate” and one for “everybody else.”
“Think about it, when a business fails, sometimes people get a golden parachute. Other people get a pink slip,” Emanuel said.
The mayor said the election posed a clear choice because Obama helped save the auto industry when it was two weeks from collapse, supported middle-class families so children could go to college and tried to help homeowners refinance their mortgages rather than let the housing market bottom out.
Gregory noted that the presidential race was deadlocked, unemployment was above 8% and Obama’s approval rating was below 50% and asked: Did nominee Mitt Romney really have to emerge from last week’s Republican National Convention as anything other than the lesser of two problematic choices?
Emanuel responded by saying each convention provides a memorable line or policy, starting with George H.W. Bush and his anti-tax pledge: “Read my lips.” Emanuel said Bill Clinton espoused a “new covenant” and George W. Bush billed himself a “compassionate conservative.”
Playing the attack dog, Emanuel ridiculed Romney’s acceptance speech by saying the GOP nominee merely laid out the policies of “Groundhog Day,” which would mean a return to the very things that led to the recession. He condemned Romney’s speech as “devoid and vacuous of any ideas” and said as a result, people instead were talking about actor-director Clint Eastwood’s bizarre appearance at the convention.
“There is nothing memorable about Mitt Romney’s speech,” Emanuel said. “There’s not a memorable line, a memorable philosophy. All he advocated was a policy that led to the economic recession.”
Emanuel, on tap to speak at the Democrats’ national gathering in Charlotte, N.C., spoke from Chicago. When Gregory asked him about Chicago’s soaring homicide rate, the mayor said he was putting more police on the streets and containing what he called a “gang-on-gang problem.” Overall crime is down by 10%, Emanuel said.