WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2011— -- Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel harshly criticized Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, claiming that he "turns a blind eye" to the middle class, while offering a spirited defense of President Obama's re-election efforts.
"Mitt Romney has revealed himself – and I believe as the campaign continues, more and more people will see who he's willing to stand for," Emanuel told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour.
Emanuel gave the keynote address to Iowa Democrats at Saturday night's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines, blasting Romney for shifting positions on issues from abortion to climate change to health care.
"Mitt Romney says he's a man of steadiness and consistency," Emanuel said Saturday in Iowa. "And if that's true, then I'm a linebacker for the Chicago Bears."
Despite a still-fluid GOP field, the White House and Obama campaign supporters have increasingly turned their fire toward presumptive front-runner Romney, who in a poll last week beat President Obama in a head-to-head general election matchup, 51 to 47 percent.
On Sunday, Emanuel defended President Obama's stewardship of the economy in the wake of the financial crisis, hitting Romney for "turning a blind eye" to the middle class by not backing the government-funded bailouts of GM and Chrysler in 2009.
"The president inherited an economy that was spinning toward nearly a depression, a financial system that was frozen up, an auto industry that was near collapse. And then, everybody made some choices," Emanuel said. "Mitt Romney was clear about the choices. He would have allowed the auto industry to go bankrupt… and the millions of jobs that were associated with that."
"There's a clear set of choices because when it comes to the decisions in that Oval Office, the outcome isn't clear. It's filled with fog," Emanuel added of Obama's decisions. "And your guide posts are your leadership, your judgment and your values."
While Emanuel focused his attacks on Romney, he hit the entire GOP field for the economic proposals brought forward in the campaign.
"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," Emanuel said. "Not one of them have had a new idea that's different than was tried."
Beyond the presidential field, Emanuel criticized Republicans in Congress for failing to work with President Obama on creating jobs and reducing the deficit, citing President Obama's efforts during this summer's budget negotiations.
"He's offered a plan… and what they've offered is an ideology," Emanuel said. "He has offered a grand bargain and they have refused to bargain."
Emanuel conceded that partisanship is high in Washington, but blamed Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who last year said that preventing President Obama's re-election was his top goal.
"Is it bad? Absolutely. There's gridlock now," Emanuel said. "But where does the origination of the poison start from?"
"The Senate leader for the Republican Party said my number one goal is to make President Obama a one term president," Emanuel added. "Now, that's very hard to bring bipartisanship when that's the operating principle of the other side."
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