Clinton endorses Emanuel, while competition goes on the attack

January 18, 2011

Sam Hudzik and Alex Keefe

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Emanuel introduced Mr. Clinton at the rally on Tuesday.

Rahm Emanuel won a public endorsement Tuesday in the race for Chicago mayor from his old boss, former President Bill Clinton. The late morning rally brought several hundred people to the Chicago Cultural Center. In a 19-minute speech, President Clinton said Emanuel would be fearlessly honest with the city, as he says his former aide always was with him.

"He never shirked to say, sometimes in extremely colorful language, when he thought I was wrong," Mr. Clinton said.

Emanuel first worked for Mr. Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign, helping with fundraising.

"And I didn't know I could raise the money to run, until I met him," the former president told the crowd.

Mr. Clinton returned the favor on Tuesday, headlining a $5,000 per ticket fundraiser for Emanuel's campaign.

The visit's been expected, and stirred some controversy last month when Congressman Danny Davis said in a statement that Mr. Clinton's involvement could fracture the former president's relationship with the city's black community. Davis dropped out of the race for mayor a couple days later and endorsed former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun.

Meanwhile, some opponents are using President Clinton's campaign stop to criticize Emanuel. 

Mr. Clinton appointed Emanuel to the board of mortgage giant Freddie Mac in 2000. Emanuel served during the time a scandal broke, which involved Freddie Mac misstating its earnings by $5 billion.

Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle slammed Emanuel over his ties to the company at a press conference shortly before the event with the former president.

"Rahm Emanuel needs to explain what his role with Freddie Mac was, and why didn't he deal with the subprime lending crisis that began to take hold at the time that he was with Freddie Mac," del Valle said.

Mayoral candidate Gery Chico also held a nearly identical press conference at the same time on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Emanuel's campaign said, "It's not credible to suggest that Rahm is responsible for the housing crisis which began years after he served on the Board" of Freddie Mac.