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Emanuel to stump for Obama in Florida and Ohio

President Barack Obamis greeted by Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel as he takes stage speak fundriser Navy Pier Chicago April 14

President Barack Obama is greeted by Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel as he takes the stage to speak at a fundriser at Navy Pier in Chicago on April 14, 2011. l Keith Hale l Sun-Times

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Updated: November 19, 2012 3:12PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he will spend the next two weekends campaigning for President Barack Obama in two battleground states — Florida and Ohio — and he’s relieved to be hitting the road for his former boss after the second debate, instead of the first.

“He is a friend, but more important than a friend of mine, he’s been a friend of the city of Chicago and he’s been a great president,” said Emanuel, who served as the first chief of staff in the Obama White House.

As for the second debate, Emanuel said, “I’m glad I’m going after this debate, rather than the other one. There’ll be a lot more energy to it.”

Last month, Emanuel delivered a rousing speech to the Democratic National Convention on Obama’s behalf before announcing that he had stepped down as co-chairman of Obama’s re-election campaign to serve as a chief fund-raiser for a political action committee supporting the president.

On Wednesday, Emanuel was asked how he can simultaneously campaign for the president in swing states and raise money for Priorities USA without violating the firewall that’s supposed to separate the two.

“We’ve cleared it all because a lot of the organizations are asking me. That’s all been cleared from a legal perspective,” the mayor said.

Emanuel declared a winner in the first presidential debate hours before it started and stuck to the script even after Romney appeared to get the better of Obama.

It wasn’t until the day before the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan that Emanuel came clean.

Asked then to predict the outcome, the mayor said, “It’ll be the same prediction I had in the last one, but I hope with a better, different outcome.”

In Florida, Emanuel will be targeting two groups pivotal to Obama’s chances of winning that pivotal state: senior citizens and Jews.

With seniors, the mayor is expected to contrast what he views as Obama’s efforts to strengthen Medicare and expand benefits against Romney’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program. With his fellow Jewish voters, Emanuel is expected to underscore the president’s support for Israel — even though Romney has accused the president of inching away from Israel.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady could not resist taking a shot at Chicago’s traveling mayor.

“Instead of misleading seniors and Jewish voters in Ohio and Florida, Chicago’s mayor should be in Chicago worrying about how to keep families safe from unprecedented crime and fiscal crisis,” Brady said. “Voters in both states already know the president cut Medicare and repeatedly castigated Israel. They don’t need to hear more excuses and explanations.”

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