- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Thursday that bipartisanship doesn’t mean actually winning Republican votes, it means the president has to try.

“There’s a number of ways of grading bipartisanship,” Mr. Emanuel, a former member of Congress, told reporters, previewing whether the White House will be able to claim that whatever health care bill emerges from Congress will meet President Obama’s goal of bipartisanship.

He said one test is whether a bill included ideas from both parties, and another test is whether the president reaches out to Republicans, even if Republicans don’t reciprocate.

“Whether Republicans decide to vote for things they promoted will be up to them, so one test of bipartisanship will be did you include things advocated by the other side,” he said.

That definition contrasts with the one offered by Mr. Obama’s Republican opponent in last year’s election, Sen. John McCain, whose definition of bipartisanship included how often someone stands up to his own party in order to work with the opposition.

Mr. Emanuel said the health care bill will include Republican ideas, so the bill will be bipartisan, even if Republicans don’t vote for it.

He also said the history of Mr. Obama’s young administration bears out that Mr. Obama will get credit for trying — as he did on the $787 billion stimulus bill —even if Republicans refuse to support him.

“The American people saw the president trying,” he said.

Mr. Emanuel talked with reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.