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Other Obama pals unhappy with what he’s done for Rahm

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

President Obama’s near-endorsement of mayoral front-runner Rahm Emanuel is a bit of a sore point with Obama’s old friends running against Emanuel.

“During the presidential primary, when Rahm Emanuel was ‘hiding under his desk’ because of his friendship with the Clintons, I was doing the heavy lifting supporting Barack Obama,” a frustrated City Clerk Miguel del Valle said.

Del Valle sat with Obama in the Illinois state Senate for Obama’s full eight years there, fighting battles side by side with Obama and co-sponsoring legislation with him.

“I was the first Latino to endorse Barack Obama for U.S. Senate, and one of his opponents in that race was Gery Chico, so I know I have earned the president’s praise — he has spoken highly of my work on Chicago’s neighborhoods.”

Obama taped a gushing endorsement of del Valle when del Valle ran for City Clerk four years ago.

In 2003 when Carol Moseley Braun announced she was running for president, Obama, then mounting his run for U.S. Senate, sprinted up the stairs at the University of Illinois Chicago for Braun’s big announcement, hoping to get her endorsement for his Senate run. He smiled at her side as she spoke.

And after Obama dispatched him in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2004, Gery Chico turned around and endorsed him.

“I threw his first fund-raiser,” when he ran for president, Chico said.

But all that history — and the fact that Emanuel, virtually alone among Illinois’ top elected Democrats, refused to take sides during the endless primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton even as del Valle and Chico campaigned actively for him — became irrelevant during Emanuel’s service as chief of staff.

The president gave Emanuel an effusive send-off, using the words, “We are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well-qualified.” And he has raised no objection as Emanuel has played those words incessantly on Chicago television and radio.

Asked if he was endorsing Emanuel or making calls on his behalf, Obama said last week, “I don’t have to make calls for Rahm Emanuel. He seems to be doing just fine on his own.”

Asked about Obama’s comments later that morning, Emanuel said, “We talked last night as we do regularly. . . . This is for me to go earn.”

Emanuel could be heard taking a congratulatory call from Obama moments after he got the good news the state supreme court had ruled him on the ballot.

Chico, Braun and del Valle say they have not gotten any calls from Obama during the campaign.

Asked if Obama has promised to vote for him, Emanuel smiled and said, “That’s a private matter.”

All four candidates emphasize that Obama has made no formal endorsement in the race.

Braun said she did not endorse Obama in the presidential primary because she had retired from politics at the time. But that did not stop her from criticizing Emanuel for not endorsing Obama:

“The $14 million candidate didn’t endorse Barack Obama and he was in politics,” Braun said.

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