How Do Obama & Rahm Emanuel Know Each Other? The Two Democrats Have Worked Together For Years
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently facing harsh criticism because of two police investigations: the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014 and the jailhouse treatment of Philip Coleman, who died in police custody, in 2012. Thanks to massive protests and loud calls for his resignation, Emanuel might just be out of a job soon — but we know of at least one person he could ask for a reference from. As the chaos continues in the Windy City, it shouldn't be surprising that Emanuel and President Obama know each other pretty well. After all, Chicago is Obama's old stomping ground.
On Wednesday, Emanuel addressed the Chicago City Council, apologizing for the shooting that left 17-year-old McDonald dead more than a year ago and the reportedly botched investigation that followed. "I am the mayor," Emanuel said. "As I said the other day, I own it. I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch." The apology was not enough for many protesters, who marched toward Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago's busiest streets, on Wednesday afternoon calling for Emanuel to resign. It seems unlikely that he'll do so — Emanuel told Politico last week that he had no intention of resigning.
Emanuel was first elected mayor of Chicago in 2011. Like Obama, Emanuel has a long connection to both the city and the Democratic Party. He was born and raised in and around the city. He worked on President Clinton's campaign and served as a senior adviser to the president during the Clinton administration. In 2002, Emanuel won election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 5th district. He rose through the ranks, eventually serving as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and chairman of the House Democratic caucus.
Emanuel served in the House during the same time that Obama served as a senator from Illinois. Once Obama won the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, Emanuel endorsed him immediately. When Obama won election to the White House, the president appointed Emanuel as his first chief of staff.
In 2011, Emanuel was elected Chicago's mayor — the first Jewish mayor to serve the city. He then won re-election in February 2015. During Emanuel's re-election campaign, the president made a visit to one of Emanuel's appearances and his campaign office, stopping by just five days before the election. Obama's support seemed important to Emanuel's campaign, which had been running a close race with the possibility of a run-off election.
This isn't the first time that Emanuel has faced criticism as mayor of Chicago. However, it's interesting to wonder if he would have won re-election so recently if the McDonald shooting video had come out immediately following the incident. So far, Obama has not spoken publicly about the criticism that his former chief of staff is facing back in Chicago. As with similar protests that have happened around the nation, it's likely that he will first and foremost condemn any violence that occurs in the calls for change and Emanuel's resignation.