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‘Rahmbo’ goes to bat for Obama, slams Romney

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers keynote speech support President ObamIowDemocratic Party's annual JeffersJacksDinner Des Moines IowSaturday Nov. 19 2011. (AP

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers the keynote speech in support of President Obama, at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner, in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

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Updated: December 21, 2011 9:48AM

DES MOINES, Iowa — Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a rousing, and, at times, attack-dog speech in defense of President Obama and against the man Obama expects to be running against, Mitt Romney.

“Mitt Romney says he’s a man of steadiness and consistency,” Emanuel — nick-named “Rahmbo” for his talent with political brass knuckles — told 1,500 Iowa Democrats Saturday.

“And if that’s true, then I’m a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.”

Emanuel ridiculed what he called Romney’s flip-flops on abortion, gun control, gay rights and immigration and said what is scarier is the issue where Romney has never wavered: “He has been rock-solid in siding with the privileged over the middle class.”

Here in Iowa, the latest poll shows Romney a distant third in the first-in-the-nation Jan. 3 caucuses. Herman Cain leads with 24.5 percent and Ron Paul has 20 percent. Romney trails with 16 percent. But Obama’s campaign presumes Romney will be the eventual nominee.

Romney was a no-show at a church gathering of six of the top Republican candidates for president across town Saturday.

“He said he would be in Iowa tonight — we should have known he would change his mind,” Emanuel wise-cracked. “Their debate was called the Thanksgiving Family Forum — which is fitting because I have never seen a greater collection of turkeys.”

The crowd at the Democrats’ Jefferson-Jackson dinner, who paid $100 to $10,000 each to hear Emanuel, roared with laughter at some of his lines; shouted “No” when asked whether America could stand Romney as president, and “Yes” when asked whether they would work hard to re-elect Obama.

“Four years ago, at this very dinner — and many of you were in attendance — a young senator from my home state of Illinois, who was 23 points down in the polls, spoke to you in words you’ll never forget,” Emanuel said.

“He stood on this platform, and promised to end ‘a war that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged.’ . . . Tonight, the last of 170,000 of America’s finest are on their way home. The war is over. That is the change we believed in.”

Obama delivered on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, on health care reform, on saving America’s auto industry, Emanuel said.

After bin Laden was killed, “Typical of the person I know, President Obama did not brag. He thanked our troops and intelligence services for their excellent work, and he moved on to the next terrorist who was threatening America and brought him to justice. He didn’t hang a banner and he didn’t pretend the mission was accomplished. He got the job done.”

Emanuel hung all the country’s financial problems on the Republicans: “They held the White House, the House and the Senate for six long years. And they did something no one had ever tried in 200 years of history: they tried to fund two wars with three tax cuts,” Emanuel said.

“That’s how you go from zero to $9 trillion in debt. It’s that simple.”

Iowa Democratic Chair Sue Dvorsky, a Barrington native, said Emanuel was the perfect choice to give the keynote speech.

“You heard them cheering,” she said. “And he didn’t have to drag them to their feet. They’re ready. Iowa Democrats have a very special relationship with President Obama because of what happened here four years ago.”

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