- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015


President Obama gave a plug Thursday for his former chief of staff, embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, during an appearance in the frigid Windy City.

Mr. Obama hugged Mr. Emanuel on stage and praised his smarts and toughness as the president announced a new national monument in Chicago in the old Pullman factory district.

“Before Rahm was a big-shot mayor, he was an essential part of my team at the White House during some very hard times for America,” Mr. Obama said. “I relied on his judgment every day and his smarts every day, and his toughness every day.”

The president added, “Along with many of the local leaders and members of Congress … Rahm hasn’t just fought for a National Park in Pullman, he’s fought for new opportunity and new jobs in Pullman, and for every Chicagoan, in every neighborhood, making sure every single person gets the fair shot at success that they deserve. And I could not be prouder of him and the extraordinary service that he’s provided.”

Mr. Emanuel, who faces reelection next Tuesday, introduced the president.

“On behalf of the entire city of the Chicago, welcome home,” the mayor said. The president, noting a wind chill of minus 17 degrees, called the city “Chiberia.”

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said the president’s policy of not appearing with foreign heads of state just prior to their elections doesn’t apply to domestic politics. Mr. Obama has said he wouldn’t meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next month in Washington due to his imminent reelection contest.

A new Chicago Tribune poll showed that Mr. Emanuel still lacks a majority as he seeks to avoid a runoff and lock up a second term.

Mr. Emanuel was at 45 percent, followed by Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia at 20 percent, with three other candidates trailing far behind.

Mr. Obama recounted how Pullman became the first large company to recognize a union of black workers: the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

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