Emanuel: If Romney can’t stand up to Rush, how will he stand up to Russia
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org March 15, 2012 2:19PM
Updated: April 19, 2012 8:15AM
If Mitt Romney “can’t stand up to Rush”— as in Limbaugh — he won’t be able to “stand up to Russia,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday, taking aim at the Republican frontrunner the day before a Chicago fundraiser for his former boss, President Barack Obama.
“Take a look at the fortitude and the strength and the determination and the vision that the president [displayed bailing out] the auto industry and juxtapose it to Mitt Romney, who doesn’t have the fortitude, the strength or the character in my view to stand up to Rush Limbaugh,” said Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff.
On the eve of an Illinois primary that will finally mean something for a change, the mayor added, “I thought what Rush Limbaugh said was — not only wrong. It was absolutely repulsive. That said, if you can’t stand up to Rush, how are you gonna stand up to Russia?”
The mayor was referring to the furor over Limbaugh’s remarks about a Georgetown law student who testified before Congress about the need for birth control coverage.
The conservative talk show host called Sandra Fluke a “slut.” Limbaugh publicly apologized to Fluke, but only after Obama had called the 30-year-old woman to express his support and after a steady stream of advertisers had abandoned Limbaugh’s nationally-syndicated radio program.
Democrats have used the Limbaugh controversy to appeal to women voters and imply that Republicans are engaged in a “war on women.”
Republicans have accused Democrats of pouncing on Limbaugh, but failing to condemn liberal talk show host Bill Maher for the vulgar remarks he has made about Sarah Palin. Maher has contributed $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC.
Asked Thursday about the contradiction, Emanuel initially changed the subject to Limbaugh.
He later denounced Maher’s remarks about Palin as “disgusting” and noted that Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod has canceled an appearance on, the HBO program, “Real Time with Maher.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said: “The White House is dispatching its liberal allies to attack Gov. Romney and distract from President Obama’s abysmal record. President Obama can’t run on his disastrous economic policies or the historic loss of middle class jobs that has occurred on his watch.
“Americans won’t be fooled by false and negative attacks – they know that President Obama has failed, and they are eager to replace him with a leader like Mitt Romney who can turn around our struggling economy.”
It’s not the first time that Emanuel has taken the gloves off against Romney, whom the mayor expects to be the Republican nominee.
In late November, the mayor played the role of attack dog against Romney as he delivered the keynote speech at the biggest Democratic fundraiser before the Iowa Caucuses.
At the time, 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.”
“Mitt Romney says he’s a man of steadiness and consistency,” the mayor told 1,500 Iowa Democrats on that day.
“And if that’s true, then I’m a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.”