Chicago mayoral hopeful Carol Moseley Braun went on the attack Thursday, slamming rival Rahm Emanuel for "abandoning" President Obama after "pushing policies that [led] to the biggest Democratic Party political loss in 27 years."
"He left the president holding the bag," Braun asserted in a statement that also claimed Emanuel "cut and ran" on Obama when he left his chief of staff job to return to Chicago for a mayoral run.
"If Rahm abandoned the president of the United States, what makes anybody think he'll stick by regular Chicagoans?" Braun asked.
The former U.S. senator and ambassador lobbed the broadside at Emanuel on the day he flew to Los Angeles for a major fund-raiser hosted by his brother Ari, the Hollywood super agent, and entertainment industry moguls David Geffen, Bob Iger, Peter Chernin and Haim Saban. The event was in Saban's Beverly Hills home, with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Braun slammed Emanuel's fund-raiser, too.
"On this day when President Obama and Illinois Democrats are still recovering from the painful political debacle that he was the architect of, Rahm Emanuel is off in Hollywood hanging out with bankers and billionaires. But maybe Hollywood is where he belongs because the story of how he 'helped' the Obama administration when he was chief of staff is indeed fiction."
Emanuel's spokesman, Ben LaBolt, issued a statement rejecting Braun's assertions.
"Rahm disagrees with Sen. Moseley Braun's statement -- he doesn't think that the president ushered in a 'debacle,' he thinks that preventing another Depression and passing health care and financial reform will help countless Americans," LaBolt said.
"While Rahm has spent the last several weeks talking with Chicagoans about plans for the city's future -- safe streets, strong schools and stable finances -- Sen. Moseley Braun's statement says nothing about her own plans for the city at this critical juncture for Chicago."
Thursday marked the first day Emanuel was attacked on two fronts, as the mayoral race heats up now that the midterm elections are over. Rival Gery Chico also poked Emanuel for hunting for Hollywood money at an event at the Hollywood Grill on North Avenue in Chicago.
Chico bashed Emanuel and accepted the endorsement of Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) against the backdrop of a big Hollywood mural at the Hollywood Grill.
Before running for mayor, both Chico, who ran for the Senate in 2004, and Braun went out of state to raise campaign cash.
Some more history: Emanuel told me last January that he was only going to stay in the White House for about two years. That Emanuel departed when he did was triggered by Mayor Daley's surprise September announcement that he would not seek a seventh term next year and the need to pull together a campaign from scratch since nominating petitions are due later this month.
Emanuel stepped down as chief of staff to run for mayor with a tremendous White House send-off -- an East Room ceremony headlined by Obama.
Petitions to get on Chicago's ballot for the February primary -- with at least 12,500 valid signatures -- are due on Nov. 22. The primary is non-partisan; if no candidate gets more than 50 percent, then the top two vote-getters advance to an April run-off election.
Blaming Emanuel for Obama's political woes following Tuesday's Democratic thumping -- and for Obama policies that disappointed the progressive community -- upped the ante for Braun as she makes a play for female and progressive voters.
I asked Braun spokesman Renee Ferguson to explain what issues Emanuel is being targeted on, and she singled out a provision in the new health-care bill -- passed only with Democratic votes -- dealing with abortions. The Obama White House, in order to get enough votes, made a deal with anti-abortion House Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), that put stricter abortion language in the new law.
"He was behind the scenes doing all the negotiating, not just to the center, but to the right," Ferguson said, "and it turned off Obama's base, his young, female and liberal base."
Ferguson also tore into Emanuel for his time as chairman of the House Democratic political operation in 2006, where he recruited candidates who did not support abortion rights.
"I think all of this made progressives angry," she said.