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Emanuel defends Obama, blasts Romney

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Brad Keywell  co-founnder GroupLightbank founder Chicago Ideas Week announces new program attract best brightest young minds

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Brad Keywell, co-founnder of Groupon and Lightbank and founder of Chicago Ideas Week, announces a new program to attract the best and brightest young minds to Chicago at news conference, Wednesday, August 3, 2011. | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: November 2, 2011 6:52PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel ripped Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday for using fund-raising events tied to President Obama’s 50th birthday bash in Chicago to blast the president for his handling of the economy.

The Romney web ad uses Chicago as a backdrop to slam Obama for the sorry state of the economy.

It argues that the president’s policies have resulted in a 48-percent increase in Chicago’s unemployment rate. It contrasts the president’s triumphant election night rally in Grant Park with an empty Grant Park and includes footage of boarded-up, abandoned buildings in South and West Side neighborhoods devastated by the prolonged recession.

Emanuel, who spent 18 months as Obama’s White House chief-of-staff, considers Romney’s video taunt the height of hypocrisy and an insult to both Chicago and its presidential resident.

“Because of the tough decisions the president made, discarding all the conventional wisdom that was then spewed around, 1.2 million people today have a job. He didn’t listen to conventional wisdom … drafted by … Mitt Romney, who suggested that … the auto industry and all the related industrial base of America should just go bankrupt,” Emanuel said.

“President Obama doubled down on America. Mitt Romney wanted to see ‘em go bankrupt. And also, I’d just like to note to the [former] governor in case he needs a rendezvous with his record, when he was governor, Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 in job production. In case he forgot that, I’d like to remind him of that.”

Emanuel was asked whether he’s concerned Obama poll numbers that have fallen in the wake of the debt ceiling crisis could hurt fund-raising for the president’s 2012 re-election campaign.

The mayor joked that he is “out of the fund-raising business.” Then, he turned serious.

“He is willing to do the unpopular things, the necessary things, to keep this country moving forward. And I have great admiration for his determination, his grit, his willingness to not do the political easy thing — to do the tough things,” Emanuel said.

“I can say that because, sometimes, I was advising him to do the politically easier thing to do. And he has rejected that advice because it was not good for the country in the long-term. He has shown the character that is necessary to … make the tough decisions for this country’s future and not do what’s easy or convenient or in the short-term.”

In advance of the president’s birthday bash at the Aragon Ballroom in Uptown, Emanuel got a haircut that he joked about on Wednesday.

“I had to get my hair cut. The boss is coming. You’ve got to look good,” he said.

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