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Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has resigned as honorary chairman of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign so that he raise money for the Democrats foundering Super PAC, Priorities USA.
Emanuel — who has strong ties to Hollywood through his brother, super agent Ari Emanuel — has built a storied reputation as a fundraiser and political strategist while he was part of the Democratic leadership in the House.
Looking ahead to the election’s home stretch, it’s clear that the Obama-leaning super PAC’s inability to come close to matching the money pro-Romney and Republican committees continue to take in will give the GOP a decisive advantage in political advertising. Time is short for the president’s supporters to compensate, since many Democratic strategists have begun to worry that, even if they have the funds, all the available air time in battleground states may soon be gone.
Legally, the super PAC expenditures must be “independent” of the candidate’s campaign, which is why Emanuel is stepping down from his honorary post.
The Chicago mayor told the Washington Post Wednesday that he is “helping, not running” Priorities. “It’s that simple,” he said. “I’m going to help where I can to get the president re-elected. And this is where I?can probably be most helpful in the final days.”
?Obama campaign strategists hope that Emanuel’s legendary powers of persuasion will help the party’s deep-pocketed donors — in the entertainment industry and elsewhere — overcome their continuing reluctance to give to the super PACs, which many regard with distaste as legal, but underhanded vehicles for funding overwhelmingly negative advertising.
Obama’s traveling press secretary Jennifer Psaki denied Emanuel’s parachute drop into the super Pac maelstrom reflects any panic in the reelection campaign. She told reporters that the Democrats always have said they expect to be out-raised by Republicans “and it’s been very clear on the super PAC side (and that’s) evident in the monthly reporting. Mayor Emanuel is very close to the president, is a strong supporter of his. He has said he thinks this is the best way he can help the president get re-elected.”
As a fundraiser, Emanuel hasn’t been shy about calling on Hollywood, where his brother Ari commands one of the town’s most enviable speed dial directories as head of the Endeavor William Morris Agency. When Rahm needed to collect money for his mayoral race, Haim Saban hosted a fundraiser at his Beverly Hills compound and kicked in $500,000 of his own cash.
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