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Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) is cited as the architect of the Democrats' campaign to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) is cited as the architect of the Democrats' campaign to regain control of the House of Representatives. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
In years of political standoffs in Washington, D.C., Republicans often had been seen as the scrappier bunch — a party willing to do whatever it takes to win.
That impression is changing because of Rahm Emanuel, Democratic U.S. representative from Illinois. He has been called smart and aggressive, among other, sometimes less-flattering adjectives.
"I'm surely not going to be a Democrat who, I believe, loves the moral victories — that is, losing. I'm just not into that," Emanuel says. "You got to find somebody else who likes a string of losses. That ain't me."
More than any other individual, Emanuel is cited as the architect of the Democrats' campaign to regain control of the House.
As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emanuel handpicked tough and telegenic candidates. And like Muhammad Ali before a prize fight, he taunted GOP incumbents in vulnerable races with press releases and verbal jabs.
And he also irritated some fellow Democrats with his "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude.
Emanuel is now fourth in line in the House leadership – chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. But he has been a force in Washington since he arrived in the early 1990s as a staffer for President Bill Clinton. Emanuel once sent a dead fish to a pollster. In Washington, he is both revered and feared.
Now, he is facing new challenges after the House victory — and learning how to exercise power in the new political landscape.