Senior Bush White House Official: Emanuel Send-off “Wasn’t A Departure, It Was a Launch”

By Josh

Oct 1, 2010 3:58pm

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Karen Travers report:

Ed Gillespie, who served as Counselor to former President George W. Bush, didn’t particularly care for President Obama’s send-off in the East Room today for chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is leaving to explore a campaign for mayor of Chicago.

“The East Room event for Rahm wasn't a departure, it was a launch,” Gillespie tweeted. “Our tax dollars at work.”

Much of the event was about the work Emanuel and the president had accomplished. The president during the event said “ we are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified.” Emanuel talked about being “energized by the prospect of new challenges and eager to see what I can do to make our hometown even greater.”

Said Gillespie to ABC News: “It struck me as a little over the top for the East Room. That’s their prerogative, of course. And I’m sure the counsel’s office signed off on it and everything. But in that building, considering that he’s leaving to run for political office, it’s something to be a little more aware of. It struck me as a bit much.”

What does Gillespie think would have been the reaction had, say, Bush chief of staff Andy Card been given the exact same send off to run for, say, governor of Massachusetts?

“I suspect there may have been some commentary,” Gillespie said with a chuckle.

But ABC News' Terry Moran reminds us of a September 20, 2007 Rose Garden event for departing Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, leaving the administration to purse a Senate bid in what Fox News called “a campaign appeal directed at fellow Nebraskans:”

“Rural America is a very special place. One particular rural state has remained especially near and dear to my heart," Johanns said. "it is a place where the richness of the land is only equaled by the character of its people. Of course, I'm speaking of the place that Stephanie and I and my family call home, the great state of Nebraska."

He continued: “In a sense, I brought Nebraskans with me to every Cabinet meeting, every hearing on Capitol Hill, every negotiating session in faraway countries. I often thought of the wisdom they conveyed to me during my years as governor. I often thought of their decency. And I did my best to remain true to the commonsense, practical approach of Nebraskans.”

Johanns was elected to the Senate the next year. Gillespie was Counselor to President Bush from June 2007 through the end of the Bush administration.

- Jake Tapper and Karen Travers

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