White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel conceded President Barack Obama and his team lost control of the message for selling their massive stimulus bill last week, fixating on bipartisanship while Republicans were savaging the legislation.
But in a wide ranging interview with reporters, Mr. Emanuel said the president's travels across the country this week have shored up support for the $789 billion measure. He strongly defended the young Obama administration against charges that its opening weeks have been amateurish and mistake-prone.
Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.
But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.
He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.
A real decisive, forceful, tough guy, is our