Now that Rahm Emanuel has been caught on tape talking to Governor Blagojevich 21 times, the Democratic party spin machine has started their work. Their latest trick is to try to explain that the embattled Governor and the President-elect’s Chief of Staff were never that close. Not exactly truthful.
As the New Yorker reported last month, Obama and Emanuel were both top strategists during Blagojevich’s initial campaign for governor. Who Says So? Emanuel. Rahm said that Obama and he:
“participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor,” Emanuel said. “We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.” A spokesman for Blagojevich confirmed Emanuel’s account, although David Wilhelm, who now works for Obama, said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role. “There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them,” Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was “an architect or one of the principal strategists.”
Doesn’t sound like “never that close” maybe Emanuel will follow up with , well Blago was just a guy in the neighborhood, or our kids played together, or he’s just a crazy uncle, after all it worked for his boss. More Below:
Emanuel, Blagojevich were never close, sources say
By Reid Wilson
Rahm Emanuel and Rod Blagojevich maneuvered their way up the chain in Chicago politics, but they have never been especially close, according to sources who know the high-profile Democratic politicians.
Rep. Emanuel’s reported involvement in discussing Barack Obama’s Senate seat with the embattled Illinois governor’s staff has put the spotlight on the relationship the two men have had.
Though active in the same Chicago political circles, Blagojevich and Emanuel were not dependent on one another, said Pete Giangreco, an Illinois consultant who has worked with both men.
“Neither one of them owed a thing to the other,” Giangreco said.
Others didn’t want to be quoted openly discussing Blagojevich and the incoming White House chief of staff, but they suggested there has been a rivalry of sorts between the 52-year-old governor and 49-year-old lawmaker.
Emanuel, many said, thinks he is smarter than Blagojevich, while Blagojevich believes Emanuel rose too fast through the political ranks.
“They come from remarkably different worlds, but it’s funny, their vocabulary is remarkably similar,” Giangreco joked, referring to Blagojevich’s profanity-laced conversations, made public in the recently filed criminal complaint, and to Emanuel’s fondness of four-letter words.
Despite their differences, Emanuel and Blagojevich’s top aide, John Harris, were in regular contact after Barack Obama’s election-night victory, according to a recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times. The article stated that Emanuel’s voice was recorded on 21 taped conversations and that he gave Harris a list of candidates Obama wanted to fill the open Senate seat.
Emanuel, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, has declined to comment since federal prosecutors unveiled their charges against Blagojevich last week. His office refused to comment for this article.
Obama said during a Tuesday press conference that his transition team will release a review of all contacts with Blagojevich’s office next week, a delay at the request of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post recently reported that Obama and Blagojevich were not political allies. Blagojevich did not speak at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.
Those who have worked with Emanuel and Blagojevich point out that the two are both longtime Chicago politicians who represented the same congressional district in Congress and are approximately the same age, but that the similarities end there.
Blagojevich first won election to downtown Chicago’s 5th congressional district in 1996, beating one-term Rep. Michael Flanagan (R-Ill.). After serving three terms, Blagojevich won the governorship in 2002.
Emanuel served in the Clinton White House until 1998, and subsequently became an investment banker based in Chicago.
Emanuel faced off against state Rep. Nancy Kaszak in the 2002 Democratic primary. Kaszak had some built-in advantages given her background as an elected official and as a politician of Polish descent; the 5th district is one-quarter Polish or German.
Blagojevich, who defeated Kaszak in the 1996 primary, did not endorse anyone in the 2002 Democratic primary, though Kaszak is said to have expected his backing. The silence benefited Emanuel, who ultimately triumphed by an 11-point margin.
Before he won the general election, the brash Emanuel let it be known he wanted to be on the influential Ways and Means Committee.
That did not sit well with Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who was also vying for a panel slot. Seven of 10 Illinois Democrats signed a letter that endorsed Davis for the seat, citing seniority.
Blagojevich was one of the three who didn’t sign the letter. (Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Bill Lipinski also did not sign it, though Lipinski backed Davis for the committee opening.)
Davis and Emanuel were ultimately passed over, but Emanuel nabbed a Ways and Means seat after helping Democrats win control of the House in 2006.
Blagojevich and Emanuel worked on a few issues together, including urging a major drug manufacturer to continue offering prescription medication at reduced prices in August 2004 and on local matters dealing with Chicago.
In November 2005, Emanuel delivered a speech on the House floor that highlighted Blagojevich’s efforts on a healthcare program in Illinois: “I rise today to recognize Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for establishing the All Kids healthcare program, and the Illinois General Assembly for passing this important initiative. This plan makes Illinois the first state in the country to provide comprehensive health insurance to every child in the state.”
Blagojevich’s office did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
What’s the matter Rahm? Couldn’t Keep a Straight Face?