Chicago Sun-Times
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Sweet: Rahm Emanuel for Vice President. See the launch video here. "I have found my own voice."


WASHINGTON--Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) is running for vice president with the slogan, "just a heartbeat away from having a heart." Emanuel, a superdelegate who is friends with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) would prefer, I bet, that the Democratic presidential nomination be resolved without having to count on the superdelegate votes.

"I’d be perfect for Vice President for either Hillary or Barack. I’d balance them both—I have more experience in the executive branch than Barack and I’ve spent more time alone with Bill than Hillary has," Emanuel said.

Emanuel launched his vice presidential bid --by now you surmise this is a joke, I hope--during a speech at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner on Wednesday night where he shared the keynoting honors with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews subbed as host, filling in for the ailing Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary.

Emanuel is a veteran master of nailing these big speeches, having the right balance of self depricating humor, mocking tone and risque references.

"I’m a man who has learned a lot since his days in the Clinton White House. Back then, the words “stimulus” and “package” had a whole different meaning," riffed Emanuel.

And this, inspired by Clinton's line about herself following her surprise New Hampshire primary win. "I am proud to say I have listened to you in the press and in the process I have found my own voice."

And just to run up the score, Emanuel produced a campaign video for this veep drive featuring his family, staffers, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and buddy James Carville.

Text, close to how delivered....

Thank you for that wonderful welcome and for having me this evening. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here.

I want to start off by reminding everyone that tomorrow is February 14th. And because it is Valentines Day, I want to mention the woman with me tonight who is the love of my life and who I would be nothing without. Nancy Pelosi.

Valentines Day— it’s my favorite holiday…and not just because of the Chicago Valentines Day massacre.

In the Emanuel house, Valentine’s Day is always a special day. This year, I have a great romantic evening planned. I’m taking my wife Amy out for dinner, then to the theater to catch Ann Coulter in Wicked.

Valentine’s Day—when I tell my wife I love her and she tells me I’m likeable enough.

Then if everything goes well, I’ll get lucky. Amy would call that the audacity of hope. Bill Clinton would call that a fairy tale.

I love Valentines Day — the time of year Rudy Giuliani calls the busy season.

Valentines Day—when Dick Cheney fantasizes about waterboarding.

But tonight is my Valentine to you, the Congressional Correspondents who know me not as Rahm Emanuel but as “a highly placed anonymous Congressional source.”

Now, you may be wondering, where is the old Rahm? Why is he talking about Valentine’s Day and love?

Well, I’ve changed. And tonight, I want to take a moment and tell you about who I was and more importantly, the person I’ve become.

I’m a man who has learned a lot since his days in the Clinton White House. Back then, the words “stimulus” and “package” had a whole different meaning.

Let’s be honest, back then when we would talk about a surge, a lightning quick thrust and a phased withdrawal it was damage control.

I’m the man missing a finger—and over the years there have been a number of wild stories about how I lost my finger.

Tonight, the truth will come out. It was a bris gone horribly wrong.

Let me explain what a bris is. When you are Jewish there are two big ceremonies. The bar mitzvah is the fun one. The bris, not so much…

I’m a man who comes from a family of achievers—my brother Ari is a well known Hollywood agent and my brother Zeke is a leading bio ethicist at the National Institutes of Health. I can see you look confused. Half of you in this room don’t understand biology and the other half don’t understand ethics

So let me sum up who I was—I was a guy known as having a bad temper, I cursed out a lot of Democrats, I dropped the F bomb and for 8 years I was blindly loyal to an embattled president. And then one morning, I realized “Wow, I’m Dick Cheney with low cholesterol.”

That did it. I knew I needed to change. And after a great period of serious reflection, I am ready to launch the new Rahm Emanuel.

I am proud to say I have listened to you in the press and in the process I have found my own voice.

And that voice is speaking out on behalf of unity and cooperation.

So in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation let me start by saying some nice things about Republicans.

We’re all lucky to have a great speaker on the other team tonight—Senator John Cornyn. If you called central casting and asked them to send you a man who looked like a US Senator they’d send you John.

If you called central casting and asked for someone who looked like a terrorist they’d send me.

Senator Cornyn is a very tolerant man. His slogan is “broad mind, narrow stance.”

I really like John Cornyn. And Senator, unlike John McCain I would never curse at you.

A lot of people wonder why Senator Cornyn didn’t run for higher office. He could never pass the GOP’s litmus test for president: 3 wives.

I would have liked to have seen John run. And honestly, I’ve found something to like about all the candidates this year.

I like Fred Thompson because he had an interesting take on No Child Left Behind. He married her.

I also like Hillary for her wanting four more debates. It’s a good idea because there are a couple of you out there who haven’t moderated one yet.

And I really like Senator Clinton’s economic stimulus package – a $5 million loan to her campaign.

I like Rudy Giuliani for his boldness in his campaign strategy. He bypassed Iowa. He bypassed New Hampshire. In fact, he bypassed 2008.

The last few days of the Giuliani campaign were pretty sad. It’s never a good sign when you have more ex-wives than supporters.

I liked Joe Biden’s concession speech in Iowa. Especially the first hour.

I like Bill Richardson even though Emanuel sounds more Latino than Richardson.

I like John Edwards because he is a populist reformer and a trial lawyer. His campaign slogan was “change…or I'll sue you.”

I like Mike Huckabee despite the fact he is for letting states decide if they want to fly the confederate flag. I thought that was decided at Gettysburg.

Mike Huckabee said if somebody came to Arkansas and told them what to do with their flag, they’d tell them where to put the pole. Brings new meaning to the word push poll.

Mike Huckabee says he is staying in the race and looking for a miracle because he believes in them. He is a very religious man who worships an ancient white haired wrathful God who believes vengeance is his. Isn’t that John McCain?

I even like John McCain. Although can you imagine John McCain as President? During the White House Easter egg hunt he’d be standing at the door in his bathrobe yelling at the kids to get off his damn lawn.

Of course, a lot of Republicans are worried about John McCain’s temper. It’s never a good sign when Dick Cheney tells you to lighten up.

I like Senator Obama — but you constantly hear the complaint that Barack isn’t tough enough, that he’s too soft, not aggressive enough, that he needs to be meaner. And the worst part—the complaint is from the Dali Lama.

And I really like him for his fundraising ability. $32 million in one month. The only way you can raise that much money that quickly: marry Teresa Heinz.

See, that’s the new Rahm, the kinder, more gentile, Rahm. And with my new perspective, I’ve decided that the time has come for me to take on a new challenge, to serve the American people in new ways.

And there is one job, one post in America that offers the platform I need to bring us together, without burdening me with any real responsibilities.

So tonight, I am proud to stand before you and launch my campaign for…Vice President of the United States.

I have to admit that this wasn’t my idea. William Safire appeared on Meet the Press and first suggested a Clinton-Emanuel ticket. He said our slogan would be “invade and bomb with Hillary and Rahm.”

That comment started a firestorm. All of a sudden, there was so much talk around the capital about me being the next vice president. And all the talk is from me.

As vice president I have a peace plan that can bring together warring factions whether they are shia and sunni or Hillary and MSNBC.

I’d be perfect for Vice President for either Hillary or Barack. I’d balance them both—I have more experience in the executive branch than Barack and I’ve spent more time alone with Bill than Hillary has.

Senator Obama and I have a lot in common. We don’t just share a home state, we also share exotic names that were given to us by our fathers. Barack, which in Swahili means Blessed and Rahm, which, roughly translated from Hebrew, means Go Screw Yourself.

We have to face the facts. My party is split: some people want the first African American nominee, others want the first female nominee, there are even a few who say it’s time for the first Jewish nominee. That’s why I have a solution that makes everyone happy. Whoopi Goldberg.

But whether the nominee is Barack or Hillary I’m serious about this campaign for vice president and to make sure I can win. I am already launching ads to introduce myself to the American people…I’m happy to give you a sneak preview of the first ad now.


That’s me, Rahm Emanuel: still lean, no longer mean and not Howard Dean.

So this could be our last time together and I see everyone is seated here...except the delegates from Michigan and Florida.

But if I’m the next Vice President, I won’t see you and have the pleasure of ignoring your questions every day on Capitol Hill.

I will miss you…but just in case I don’t end up as Vice President, then you can count on me being back here with you year after year.

Because dinners like these matter and they are important far beyond just being a night of fun and laughs.

The Congressional Dinner is a great tradition where elected officials and the press can come together and reflect on the role we each play in our Democracy. And as we sit here tonight, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the loss this week of someone who was, to me, not just a colleague, but a hero -- Chairman Tom Lantos.

As we remember Tom, we should also remember that the core American ideals that his life experience led him to cherish are the same beliefs we all share: a belief that this is the greatest nation on earth, a belief that we can work together for the common good, an understanding that our liberty and our freedoms are precious and often fragile, and that we should always support those who defend them.

But now, before I say good night – or as Mitt Romney’s household help says, bwenos noches – I want to end with my Valentine’s Day poem to you in the press.

Texas is Red, Chicago is blue;

Through it all, we’ve depended on you;

To tell it straight, to stick to the facts,

To cut through the bull and get down to brass tacks.

The press is the grease that moves our metropolis;

From Russert and Hulse to George Stephanopoulos.

There’s a thin line that’s between love and hate;

But you can’t be replaced, except by the YouTube debate;

Our freedoms depend on a fair and free press;

So keep writing stories, sort through the mess.

And here is my Valentine wish for you all;

May we all still be working, after the fall.

Thank you and good night.


Glad this is a joke. But, Rahm Emanual wasn't making me laugh when he joined James Carville in wrongfully taking credit for the 2006 Congressional victory. That was Howard Dean's hard work.

This man is so freakin' funny it hurts.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 14, 2008 11:03 AM.

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