Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said his former boss, President Barack Obama, always scores the political points he needs to win when he needs them.
Emanuel, who was Obama’s first White House chief of staff, used a basketball metaphor to describe his confidence that Obama will regain momentum in the presidential race.
“He is the ultimate three-point shooter with three seconds left on the clock,” Emanuel, 52, said at a Bloomberg Breakfast in Chicago. “That’s when he performs better. He has throughout his career.”
Emanuel made his comments in Bloomberg’s Chicago bureau when asked to assess the political landscape after Obama’s lopsided loss in the first presidential debate against Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Since that Oct. 3 encounter, Romney has gained ground on the incumbent in national and battleground state polls.
The mayor declined to say whether he has given Obama any advice for his next debate, on Oct. 16 in Hempstead, New York.
“He doesn’t need my advice to say we can’t have another debate like that,” he said.
While acknowledging Romney “did better” than Obama in the first debate, he said a report last week showing the national unemployment rate declining to 7.8 percent in September “recalibrated” the race after the first debate.
He called the jobs report a “circuit breaker kind of event” that stopped the negative story line for Obama after his debate performance.
In a close race such as this one, Emanuel said “every day, every hour counts” and Democrats must stay focused.
Emanuel said he expects to campaign on Obama’s behalf in the coming weeks. He’s not yet certain of his state assignments, although they may be Florida and Ohio.
“I will do whatever it takes to get President Obama re-elected,” he said.
After taking a respite from fundraising, Emanuel said he’s again working to raise money for Priorities USA Action, a super-political action committee founded by former White House officials. The mayor said he’s doing his part to “help them stay on the air” with television advertising against Romney.
Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, face off tonight in Kentucky in what will be the only vice presidential debate this year.
Biden and Obama have to have “strong performances to explain to people their vision of the future and what they’re going to do to help the middle class,” Emanuel said.
While vice presidential debates typically don’t matter much in presidential races, Emanuel said he expects a large TV-viewing audience tonight as he pointed to the shrinking pool of undecided voters in a half-dozen states that have a history of voting for either major party candidate.
“That 6 percent in six states is going to decide something,” he said.