One of President Barack Obama's closest advisers Saturday said claims that the White House is engaging in "seedy Chicago politics" are "completely unwarranted."

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett pushed back against the Republican refrain in a year-end interview with Politics Daily. Jarrett focused specifically on Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) use of the phrase in a recent CNN interview.


"It was definitely a cheap shot and completely unwarranted," said Jarrett, who is one of several Chicagoans to join the Obama administration. "I think what people ought to do is to focus on how they can be constructive in their discourse and present fresh ideas for the president's consideration, and not lose focus on why they were all elected. They were elected to serve the people."

GOPers have lobbed the "Chicago politics" accusation at the White House for deals it has struck with lawmakers and interest groups on high-profile legislative efforts such as healthcare and cap-and-trade. The claim is taken to imply a certain dirtiness about the deals that riffs on Chicago's well-known political machines.  

Several Obama allies from the Chicagoland area work in the current administration such as senior adviser David Axelrod, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Jarrett. 

Jarrett also took on criticisms of the healthcare reform legislation now coming from the left. Some liberals now say the White House did not do enough to advocate for provisions favored by liberals such as the public health insurance option and Medicare buy-in. 

Both proposals were removed from the Senate bill during debate. Without those provisions, some on the left now say the bill is a giveaway for health insurance companies because the legislation mandates that people purchase healthcare insurance without offering a public alternative. 

"Anyone who thinks that this is a boon for the insurance companies is just simply wrong," she said. "There's more insurance reform in both the House and Senate bills than we've ever seen before in Washington. The fact that you are increasing the number of people who are covered, and by increasing coverage that's considered an insurance company boon, is ridiculous! We shouldn't have a conversation about something like that. We should have a conversation focused on the facts."

She continued saying that the president does not often worry about "extreme" views coming from the right and left. 

"He does not spend time pulling his hair out worrying about the extreme views," she said. "It's not constructive and it's not going to improve the quality of life of everyday people who are out there struggling."