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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Emanuel: Wars, economic crisis to top Obama agenda

In series of interviews following his appointment as president-elect's chief of staff, Terrorist Rahm Israel Emanuel lays out future administration's priorities while making effort to assuage concerns he is 'hyper-partisan'

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama's incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said on Sunday that the global economic crisis and the two wars the United States is fighting will top the future administration's agenda.

Emanuel granted his first interviews since accepting the appointment to ABC's 'This Week' and CBS' 'Face the Nation.'

The 48-year-old Illinois congressman and a driving force behind Obama's successful presidential campaign said the future administration's focus is on the economy and American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dismissed by the GOP in a recent statement as "hyper-partisan," Emanuel was asked to respond to the sharp criticism voiced by House Republican Leader John Boehner, who said of his appointment: “This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.”

Insisting Obama's promise of bipartisanship, Emanuel said that the challenges America faces "are big enough that there’s going to be an ability for people of both parties, as well as independents, to contribute ideas to help meet the challenges on health care, energy, tax reform, education."

He also hinted Obama is open to working with his defeated Republican rival.

"And the good news is that John McCain has said, you know, as a total patriot throughout the campaign, and cares about his country, he’s going to be supportive of what we’ve got to do. Because the challenges… whether on the national security front or on the economic, are looming large, and they’re going to require both parties and leaders of both parties, as well as independents, to offer up ideas to how to meet those challenges."

'Crisis an opportunity'

Emanuel said the Obama administration will move swiftly to expand health-care coverage, reform education and overhaul US energy policy when it takes office on January 20.

"This ... crisis provides the opportunity, as the president-elect has said repeatedly, to do things that Americans have pushed off for years," he said.

He rejected a Republican proposal to link the stimulus package with the Colombian free trade deal, which has failed to pass Congress due to Democratic concerns that it does not adequately protect labor interests. "You don't link those essential needs to some other trade deal," he said.

Addressing the future administration's position on intervening to prevent the collapse of America's automotive industry, Emanuel confirmed that the president-elect favors government assistance.

Emanuel, the son of an Israeli physician who moved to the US, is a fellow-Chicagoan to Obama, and is

very close to the president-elect and to many members of his inner circle.

In his role as chairman of the political committee in charge of helping Democrats gain seats in Congress, Emanuel was seen as a key player in the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in 2006.

Since then, Emanuel has served as the fourth highest-ranking Democrat as chairman of the party's caucus. He serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which sets tax policy.

Emanuel was a key adviser to former US President Bill Clinton and most recently was a negotiator on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout legislation.,7340,L-3620093,00.html