Republicans aiming darts at the Obama White House thought they found a way to get to the president from Chicago -- and his inner circle of Chicagoans -- during the first year of the Obama presidency.
Last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) -- angry about the deals the White House and Senate Democratic leader made with reluctant Democratic senators to get their crucial votes on the health care bill -- said the legislation passed only because of "seedy Chicago politics, when you think about it; back-room deals that amount to bribes."
On Christmas Eve, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said of the deal-making, "That's back-room politics of the worst sort. That's Chicago-type politics of the worst sort."
The drumbeat started earlier. In October, House Republican Leader John Boehner said White House maneuvers were "Chicago-style politics."
Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod --Chicagoans all -- shrugged off the Chicago-bashing when I asked them to respond in separate interviews.
"They don't know Chicago. They are caricaturing Chicago, and that's not fair," Jarrett said.
Said Axelrod, "They know heavy-handed politics when they see it. ... I just write that off to a bunch of Washington hype, you know, hyperbolic lather."
Just "politics and spin," said Emanuel. "...There is no substance to it. I don't really think about it . I haven't thought about it until you asked about it. I don't pay attention to it."