CHICAGO (WBBM) — Mayor Daley injected himself into Chicago’s mayoral campaign today with an angry denunciation of a comment about Rahm Emanuel by one of Gery Chico’s supporters.
Jim Sweeney, head of of Operating Engineers Local 150, was endorsing Chico Tuesday night at a labor rally when he called Emanuel a “Wall Street Judas.” Sweeney was getting ready to introduce Chico and was talking about the financial problems facing the city when he made the remark.
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“We don’t need to be told that there’s an economic problem, we live it every day,” Sweeney said. “Rahm Emanuel doesn’t live it, he’s nothing but a Wall Street Judas [with] a bag of silver that he collected when he went and passed NAFTA. That’s exactly what he is.”
WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger reports the mayor grew irate at an unrelated news conference on Thursday and said the remark was clearly anti-Semitic.
“Yes I do,” Daley said. “Definitely. Yes.
“My brother [Bill] was on Wall Street, they didn’t condemn him, did they?”
Daley said it was slur against all Jews who have given so much to the city.
Daley then made a reference to the work of his wife’s oncologist, Dr. Steven Rosen, who is Jewish.
“A wonderful doctor,” he said. “Am I embarrassed because he’s Jewish? Is this what we’ve come to?”
Maggie Daley has been battling cancer for years.
Daley said the statement lowers the level of the campaign. He called on Chico, Daley’s former chief of staff, to repudiate it.
“Run on the issues,” the mayor said. “Not on [ethnic or religious origins] of anyone. Do not take that point. That lowers the campaign for the city of Chicago. It’s a disgrace.”
Chico said Sweeney could have chosen his words more carefully, but he fired back at Daley during his own appearance.
“Mayor Daley knows better about me. Mayor Daley was at my daughter’s bat mitzvah,” Chico told reporters. “He knows where I come from, and I think rather than kindle a fire here in a situation, he ought to try to bring a measured response.”
Sweeney denied his comment had anything to do with Emanuel’s religion.
“When I referred to a Judas, that’s no different than a Benedict Arnold or any of the great traitors in history who traded on the people that believed in them,” Sweeney said .