Fusion’s Jorge Ramos pressed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over two of President Obama’s broken campaign promises: closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pushing immigration reform during his first year in office.
In a tense and heated exchange, Ramos asked Emanuel—who served as Obama’s chief of staff from 2009 to 2010—to explain why immigration reform remains stalled and the Guantanamo Bay camp remains open. Emanuel said that Congress blocked Obama from achieving his goals.
“That would be actually an accurate way to tell the viewers what happened,” he said. “The President didn’t lose his fire in his belly for what he wanted to see through but he had a reaction against by Congress - by both parties - to not see it through”
Emanuel defended both his and Obama’s record on immigration.
“I was the President's chief of staff and I also saw through and helped him see, and as you know, he did a number of things as it relates to make America better, as it relates to welcoming immigrants as I have done here as mayor of the city of Chicago.”
On Guantanamo, Emanuel said that Obama was stymied by members of both parties in Congress. And the ex-adviser said it’s unfair for Ramos to blame Obama for the unfulfilled nature of those promises.
“Maybe it’s convenient to try to find who you want to blame,” Emanuel told Ramos. “I think the better approach is as you know – let’s create, since we’re part of the show – is to actually give context.”
He said that Obama is pushing for immigration reform now that some Republicans in Congress have come around to the idea after the 2012 election.
While immigration and Guantanamo remain open questions, Obama’s former top adviser said the President achieved other major goals like stemming the recession, winding down the war in Iraq, and passing healthcare reform.
“He made a number of pledges and he kept to those pledges, not all of them like as you said,” Emanuel said to Ramos.
“Not all of them,” Ramos replied.
“Yeah but it’s not like he didn’t follow through on what he pledged to do,” said Emanuel.
Emanuel also chafed at Ramos for bringing up Chicago’s high murder rate. The city had 500 murders in 2012, the most in the nation. Emanuel said shootings and overall crime has dropped over the past year.
“Fighting crime is about more police on the street and getting kids, guns, and drugs off the street.”
Emanuel invited Ramos to Chicago, saying “What I’d recommend is that rather than talking to people, why don’t you come down here to the city. And I’ll show you the dramatic improvements we’ve made around the city.”
The two also addressed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s recent revelation that he smoked crack cocaine. Ramos asked Emanuel if he had been in touch with Ford. “You gotta be kidding,” Emanuel said. "No."
To see the full conversation on this and other issues, like crime in Chicago and the 2016 presidential race, watch “AMERICA with Jorge Ramos” at 8 PM ET on Fusion.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.