Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel gains fundraising help this week from former President Bill Clinton and Andy Samberg, who portrayed Emanuel as a foul-mouthed White House chief of staff in skits on "Saturday Night Live."
Meanwhile, the four major rivals in the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral primary -- Emanuel, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), attorney Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel Del Valle -- squared off Monday during a televised forum where students asked the questions and three of the contenders talked about being bullied as youths.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported
that Del Valle said he was beaten up because he was "one of the first Hispanics at his school."
Emanuel said thugs at his north suburban school "beat me up and took my bike" when he returned from a summer trip to Israel with a very dark tan. His younger brother, Ari, who was bigger, had to rescue him as the kids "said some things on a racial basis" to Emanuel because of his dark color.
Braun said there was a girl in her grade school "who would beat me up, until I got her. I was smaller than most of the kids in my class and she would just pick on me and pick on me and pick on me, and one day I just kind of went berserk, and she left me alone after that."
Clinton, Samberg to Shake the Money Tree
Samberg performs a wicked Emanuel impersonation, and on Friday he will be face-to-face with his alter ego when he stars at a $50-per-person fundraiser for him.
On Tuesday, Clinton is the draw for a $5,000-a-ticket event, a lower-price reception and a rally, all at the city's downtown Cultural Center. Last month's announcement of Clinton's visit drew shots from Braun and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who has since dropped out of the race.
In December, Davis issued a statement warning Clinton to stay out of Chicago and not take sides, asserting if he did, it could "fracture" the warm relationship the former president has with Chicago's African-American community. Clinton should not, Davis said, come "to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community."
While Braun, Davis and Emanuel all have ties to Clinton, the ones the former president has with Emanuel have been stronger and more enduring. Clinton came to Chicago in 2002 to help fundraise and get votes for Emanuel when he was in a heated Democratic primary in his first House race.
Emanuel is the front-runner in the non-partisan primary, while Braun is the leading African American candidate in a city where voting often falls heavily along racial lines. Emanuel hopes to win African-American votes in part because he was chief of staff for the nation's first black president.
Former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is backing Emanuel and was the chair of a fundraiser for him last week that featured singing star Jennifer Hudson. Her former husband, Jonathan, a top fundraiser for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign, is a major fundraiser for Braun.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the top two finishers face off in an April 5 run-off.
Clinton's Ties to Emanuel, Braun, Davis
Emanuel moved from Chicago to Little Rock, Ark., in 1991 to take on fundraising chores in Clinton's presidential campaign; he then joined the Clinton White House as political director. He was bounced from that job, but rebounded as a key man on the team pushing for passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (headed by Bill Daley, the new White House chief of staff, who eventually replaced Emanuel when he quit to run for mayor -- a job being vacated by Daley's brother, Richard) and ended up as a top Clinton adviser with an office next to the president's.
After Davis blasted Clinton for interfering in the Chicago mayoral race, Braun chimed in, urging Clinton not to "parachute" into the campaign for Emanuel. Braun's harsh words came even though Clinton and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Chicago to fundraise and campaign for her in an unsuccessful 1998 re-election campaign. Mrs. Clinton even did a television commercial for Braun. In 1999, Clinton appointed her as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.
Davis was a co-chair of Clinton's 1992 Illinois presidential campaign.