Emanuel still mum on which Dem he backs for president

March 20, 2008 4:04:34 PM PDT
The Michigan legislature has adjourned without deciding to do-over its Democratic primary.Now, it's more likely that party leaders known as super delegates will determine the democratic nominee for president. That's creating a super headache for one Chicago congressman.

Chicago congressman Rahm Emanuel is close to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. So at this point, he is Illinois' only uncommitted super-delegate. The other 27 have endorsed Obama.

Emanuel's waiting for the end of the primary season to make a decision that will be critical because there probably won't be re-votes in Michigan or Florida. So neither candidate will have enough regular delegates to win, leaving the nomination squarely in the hands of Emanuel and nearly 800 other super-delegates.

"President Kennedy, who everybody likes to quote, and I will quote him, said "to govern is to choose," and life is a series of choices," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, (D) Chicago.

The easy choice for Congressman Emanuel is for the U.S. to start spending as much money on critical health, education and infrastructure needs at home as we're spending to rebuild Iraq, and he was lobbying for that Thursday.

But he's not ready to choose between Clinton, a close friend from White House days in the '90s or Obama, a close friend from Illinois politics in recent years.

"Both Barack and Hillary are friends of mine. They are not just colleagues. They are friends," said Emanuel.

"I have known Rahm for years. I never tell him what to do. He wouldn't listen. He always makes the right decision in the end," said Carol Ronen, (D) Illinois superdelegate.

Ronen is a former state senator from Chicago who's committed to Obama. And she agrees with a suggestion from a party leader Wednesday that super-delegates hold their own primary in June to decide between Obama and Clinton instead of waiting for the Democratic convention at the end of August.

"I think it's a fair idea. I think the sooner we have a nominee, the better for the Democratic Party and the better for the country," said Ronen.

"I thought it was an intriguing idea. I am kind of noodling it because I don't think we want to go to the convention and have that open-ended," said Emanuel.

Emanuel is not, however, taking any position on what to do about Florida and Michigan, which were stripped of their delegates for ignoring the party's order not to hold their primaries in January.

"How Florida and Michigan gets resolved is up to the state party chairs and Howard Dean," said Emanuel.

On the campaign trail Thursday, Clinton and Obama and their surrogates continue to spar over Michigan and Florida, Jeremiah Wright and who really has a better record on trade. But that's pretty mild stuff, according to Emanuel, who says the campaign's been remarkably clean and issues-oriented, so it's OK to go on for a couple more months if the voters continue to come out in record numbers because that bodes well for the general election in November.

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