Rahm Emanuel to 2020 Democrats: Don't mess with President Obama

President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff is incredulous some Democratic presidential candidates took shots at the former president during this week’s second round of debates in Detroit, Michigan.

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Rahm Emanuel told “WSJ at Large” on FOX Business that it’s foolish to try to paint Obama’s record negatively in order to attack his former vice president and now presidential hopeful, Joe Biden.

“The guy (Obama) is 90 something percent (in popularity ratings) among Democrats,” he argued. “The most successful progressive, prolific president who had an incredible Chief of Staff, let me say that-- since the Great Society. What are they doing?”

Biden was especially challenged during the second day of debates about the number of illegal immigrants deported during the Obama Administration. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was among those taking shots at Biden, saying, “You were vice president of the United States. I didn’t hear whether you tried to stop them or not, using your power, your influence in the White House.”

Emanuel, who was a member of the House of Representatives before his stint at the White House, then became mayor of Chicago, said Democrats would be crazy to separate themselves from the former president.

“Every element of progressivity, from literally (Woodrow) Wilson to Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt to the Great Society and forward builds on the progress of the generations before for generations to come.  This is nuts!”

As for what the Democrats need to do to defeat President Trump in the 2020 election, Emanuel believes the nominee must not be too radical.

Earlier in the week, he sent a memo to the candidates saying, "If you win the nomination in a way that forecloses a path to victory in the general election, we will lose, and your name will go down in infamy."

And Emanuel knows the nominee faces the challenge of running against an incumbent president during a robust U.S. economy. But he believes Democrats can overcome that advantage by tapping into voter unhappiness with Trump.

“They think the economy is OK, not bad. They think Donald Trump is worse than bad. That’s the sweet spot,” he noted. “That’s where the gold is.  It’s in Pennsylvania all the way to Minnesota.  And voters – mainly, also I would tell you, female voters, I think we should be very clear to them about healthcare, and I -- my view is the president issuing to undo ACA, the healthcare bill.”

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And Emanuel’s final advice on how to win the election?

“We need a very strong turnout, and we also need to make sure that voters who are not happy with Trump come home to the Democratic Party,” he explained. “There’s a whole slug of voters who did not vote for Trump but voted against Hillary. The Republicans lost in 2018.  We need to keep them in 2020.  That is how we get the White House back.”