Rahm Emanuel

Farewell Remarks on Resigning as White House Chief of Staff

delivered 1 October 2010, Washington, D.C.


Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Thank you. Slightly different reception than I got at my bar mitzvah, but I appreciate it.

Thank you, Mr. President, for those generous words. But, more importantly, thanks for your warm friendship, your confidence, and the opportunity to serve you and our country in such consequential times.

Needless to say, this is a bittersweet day for me, too. On the one hand, I'm excited to be heading home to Chicago, which as you know very well, Mr. President, is the greatest city in the greatest country in the world. I'm energized by the prospect of new challenges and eager to see what I can do to make our hometown even greater. These are unprecedented and great times in Chicago, Mr. President: The Chicago Bears are 3-0.

[President Obama: Unbelievable.]

I'm also sad to leave you, the vice president, and my terrific colleagues here at the White House, the Cabinet, and so many friends on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue with whom I've worked as chief of staff and as a member of Congress.

It's been a profound privilege to work for and with you, Mr. President. I watched you confront some of the toughest challenges of our time, and you've done it with unfailing grace, intelligence, and courage. You had the tough -- You had the guts to make the tough calls that stopped the free fall and saved our country from a second Great Depression. You've taken on some of the most powerful interests in this town to stand up for the American people. And you've been willing to challenge the worn-out ideas and the stale thinking that often stands in the way of progress.

Mr. President, I thought I was tough. But as someone who saw firsthand how close our nation came to the brink and what you had to do to put America back on track, I want to thank you for being the toughest leader any country could ask for in the toughest times any President has ever faced. And even on the hardest days, you never lost focus on why we're here: not just to score political points, but to solve problems; not just to win the next election, but to make a difference for the next generation.

I have served you, Mr. President, as a member of your staff, but I also observed you as a friend. I have seen what few are privileged to see: the father whose heart breaks when he writes a letter to parents whose son or daughter has been lost on the field of honor; the man of quiet, committed faith who always appeals to the better angels of our nature; and the proud product of the American Dream, who sees in the reams of economic statistics the child who struggles and the single parent with limited income, but unlimited potential.

You have lived that American dream, Mr. President, as have I. My father and my grandfather came to this country for opportunity. They came here for a better life for their children. My mother marched with Martin Luther King because she believed that none of us is truly free until all of us are.

Both my parents raised me to give something back to the country and the community that has given us so much. And I want to thank you for the opportunity to repay, in a small portion, of the blessings this country has given my family. I give you my word that even as I leave the White House, I will never leave that spirit of service behind.

Now, because my temperament is sometimes a bit different than yours, Mr. President, I want to thank my colleagues for your patience the last two years that you have shown. I -- I'm sure you've learned some words that you've never heard before, and in any -- and an assortment of combination of words. What we've learned together was what a group of tireless, talented, committed people can achieve together.

And as difficult as it is to leave, I do so with the great comfort of knowing that Pete Rouse will be there to lead the operation forward. From the moment I arrived and the moment he arrived, Pete has been a good friend with great judgment. He commands the respect of everyone in this building, and brings decades of experience to this assignment.

Finally, I want to thank my wife, Amy, and our three remarkable children, Zach, Ilana and Leah, without whose love and support none of this would have been possible. I hope to end this soon so they can all get back to school today and finish their exams.

Mr. President, thank you. And thank you all. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

Audio, Image (Screenshot) Source: WhiteHouse.gov

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Page Updated: 1/19/21

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