Rahm Emanuel expressed confidence Wednesday in President Obama’s ability to work with Republicans in a second term to pass significant legislation. Emanuel cited his experience as the former White House chief of staff to both Obama and his Democratic predecessor.
A weakened Bill Clinton faced similar stalemates with determined Republicans over health care, Medicare and especially a budget that resulted in a memorable government shutdown in 1995, Emanuel told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie.
“When the country was in the midst of the worst of the worst economic recession since the great Depression, the only job they were interested in getting was the White House, not the American people back to work,” Emanuel said about Republicans.
Yet, Clinton came back to win re-election the following year and passed a landmark balanced budget agreement, as well as significant legislation in the areas of health care, Medicare and environment.
“The American people issued a verdict, and the Republicans finally sat down at the table rather than shut the government down, they negotiated a change in direction of government,” Emanuel said.
Asked about Obama’s recent self-assessment, Emanuel said he agreed with the “incomplete” the president gave himself, saying it demonstrates how much he continues to work at improving the nation’s economy and future prospects.
“Until the middle class feel like their economic security is where it should be, the president should have an ‘incomplete’ in the sense of being able to afford a college education, safer retirement, afford health care, own a home and have the security of a job,” he said.
Emanuel also was asked whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make another run for president in 2016. The former first lady and senator has said she plans to step down from her current position next year.
“Only she can answer the question,” Emanuel said. "She is very clear she is now done with public life, but in the sense of electoral life or serving in administration, there is a lot you can do in public life without running for office.”
Eun Kyung Kim is a correspondent for TODAY.com based in Washington. You can follow her on Twitter @eunkim