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AMANPOUR: And Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins us now from Des Moines, Iowa.
Mayor, thank you for being with us.
EMANUEL: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So you gave this speech, and the beginning was a hilarious, if scathing send-up of a lot of the Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and the others. So are we to assume that President Obama should be really -- can't believe his luck, given these opponents?
EMANUEL: Well, look, somebody's going to be the Republican nominee, and then it's up to the choice that's presented for the American people. But what's interesting, regardless of the personalities, all of them are espousing the same policies that have been tried before and led to the present economic situation that the president inherited in 2009. Not one of them have had a new idea that's different than was tried.
And as I noted in the speech, George Bush got handed and the Republicans got handed in 2000 record surplus, and they got handed off a record national debt. And we didn't just come to that by accident. The president inherited an economy that was spinning towards nearly a depression, a financial system that was frozen up, an auto industry that was near collapse.
And then everybody made some choices. Mitt Romney was clear about the choices. He would have allowed the auto industry to go bankrupt...
AMANPOUR: All right.
EMANUEL: ... with the millions of jobs that were associated with that. But those are the choices, those are the values, that's the leadership, and that's what will be measured by the American people. So you look at field, obviously, you drew the conclusion you said. The policies, the same.
AMANPOUR: You did, in fact, spend a lot of time talking about the promises made and the change brought, as you put it in your speech, and yet one of the biggest changes that President Obama promised was to unlock the gridlock in this town right now, in this town since he became president. And he wanted to sort of have a different kind of politics. And yet here we are, stuck in the same political paralysis, and with no sort of end in sight.
EMANUEL: Well, wait a second. I've been through people that brought an impeachment, et cetera. Is it bad? Absolutely, there's gridlock. Now, let's take an example, Christiane. He's offered a plan as it relates to dealing with the deficit panel and the debt panel. He's offered a plan, OK? And what they've offered is an ideology.
He has offered a grand bargain, and they have refused to bargain. The Senate leader for the Republican Party said, "My number-one goal is to make President Obama a one-term president." Now, that's very hard to bring bipartisanship when that's the operating principle of the other side.
EMANUEL: Is it bad? Yes. But, no, is it bad? Absolutely. But that's-- but where does the origination of the poison start from? And so when you have the -- President Obama doesn't walk around saying, "My number-one goal is to beat the Republicans." My number-one goal is to help America. Their number-one goal is a political one. His number-one goal is, how do we make ourselves competitive in the 21st century? Those are two different operating premises, Christiane.