Rahm Plays ‘Mr. Nice’ in Latest Campaign Ad for Chicago Mayoral Campaign

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green
Chicago, IL

In a campaign that has been short on substance but long on populist anger, Rahm Emanuel is trying a new tactic in his latest campaign ad by playing Mr. nice guy, wearing a v-neck sweater and speaking in the sort of soothing tones that belie his harsh, well-deserved, tough-talking reputation.

The ad, titled “Chicago’s Future,” features a soft spoken Emanuel who seen essentially apologizing for his brash reputation. “I own that,” he says.

Of course, insiders know that when the cameras aren’t rolling, Emanuel is quite the opposite of the soft-spoken, sweater-wearing fellow of his campaign commercial.

But now Rahm is in the political fight of his life, and it seems he thinks a new approach is needed only weeks from the April 7 run off election with opponent Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Mayor Emanuel was the recipient of the largest number of votes in last month’s city-wide election but did not reach the 50 percent plus he needed to win re-election outright. Garcia, Rahm’s closest opponent, received only 28 percent in the five-way election, but it was enough to keep Rahm under 50 percent. Hence, the mayor was forced into the first run off election in Windy City history.

Emanuel has a huge advantage in campaign money. Along with his own $30-million campaign warchest, Emanuel is also getting the help of a PAC he set up called Chicago Forward. But so far that advantage has not gained him much.

By comparison, Emanuel’s opponent, Chuy Garcia, has less than $2 million. However, in lieu of an early campaign warchest, Garcia has also picked up some powerful endorsements.

For one, Garcia has picked up the endorsement of the powerful Service Employees International Union. But he also got the nod from Operation Push’s Reverend Jesse Jackson and a large contingent of the city’s black ministers. And the Hispanic candidate had already gotten the support of the Chicago Teachers Union late last year.

But the campaign has been relatively light on issues. The city’s massive pension bomb, for instance, hasn’t even been brought up at all in the campaign so far. In fact, Emanuel’s opponent has gotten through 90 percent of the campaign before he even bothered to unveil his financial plan to pay for all the promises he’s made so far.

Donald Haider, a one-time candidate for mayor himself, told Bloomberg that the campaign has been substance free.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen such financial uncertainty and so many moving parts all going on at once, and no one wanting to blink first by saying what he’s going to do about it,” he said.

“It’s a three-ring circus,” Haider added. “The courts with pensions, [Ill. Governor] Rauner with the budget and the city with its back against the wall.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com