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Rahm Emanuel Speech At 2012 Democratic Convention: 'Which Crisis First?'

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, made his speech at the 2012 Democratic convention on Tuesday night.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, made his speech at the 2012 Democratic convention on Tuesday night.

CHICAGO -- Rahm Emanuel used his personal experience as former White House chief of staff to tout President Barack Obama's leadership "in a time of crisis" while addressing the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday.

"On that first day, I said, "Mr. President, which crisis do you want to tackle first?" said Emanuel. "He looked at me, with that look he usually reserved for his chief of staff, 'Rahm, we were sent here to tackle all of them, not choose between them.' There was no blueprint or how-to manual for fixing a global financial meltdown, an auto crisis, two wars and a great recession, all at the same time.

"We faced a once-in-a-generation moment in American history," Emanuel continued. "Fortunately for all of us, we have a once-in-a-generation president."

The Chicago mayor then detailed Obama's first-term accomplishments, focusing on the passage of health care and Wall Street reform and the auto bailout, while slamming Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for infamously declaring, "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

Emanuel recalled a meeting between Obama and his advisers to tackle the impending collapse of the auto industry. Some advisers told Obama they were "throwing good money after bad," while others felt the only way to save one company was to let another go under. "Only the president suggested going all-in to save the industry," Emanuel said.

"Because President Obama made the right choice, over 1 million Americans are still working today," he said. "The American auto industry is not just surviving. It is thriving. Where Mitt Romney was willing to turn his back on Akron, Dayton and Toledo, Ohio, the president said, "I've got your back.""

Emanuel also touted the Affordable Care Act, even though he tried to steer Obama away from health care reform while serving in the White House. Recently, Emanuel reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the individual mandate by stating, "Thank God for the rest of the country he didn't listen to me."

Before concluding his speech, Emanuel, who also served in the Clinton administration, laid out a choice of two fundamentally different visions of where to take the country in 2012.

"Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that crisis lands like a thud on the Oval Office desk?" Emanuel asked the crowd. "A person who believes in giving tax cuts to the most fortunate, or a president who believes in making college affordable for all Americans? A person who wanted to keep 'don't ask, don't tell,' or a president who believes that who you love should not keep you from serving the country you love?"

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