Rahm Emanuel says Pelosi should be Speaker: 'Rookies need not apply'

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), who tangled with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks Governors air frustrations with Trump on unemployment plans MORE (D-Calif.) throughout his time as White House chief of staff and as a member of the House, on Wednesday released a statement backing Pelosi for Speaker.

"I have worked with Nancy Pelosi in Congress, and I have clashed with Nancy Pelosi as White House chief of staff," Emanuel said in a statement. "I know a tough negotiator when I see one." 

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He added that he has the "utmost respect for Pelosi," whose bid for the gavel has been complicated by a small but vocal contingent of her caucus who say they will not support her.  

Emanuel in the statement presented Pelosi as the best option to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks State aid emerges as major hurdle to reviving COVID-19 talks MORE (R-Ky.) and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE.

"Nancy Pelosi is as tough and cagey as McConnell is ruthless and Trump is unprincipled," Emanuel wrote. "It is time for a Speaker that can go toe-to-toe with both of them in support of Democratic values." 

"Rookies need not apply," he concluded. "Let's keep our eye on the prize." 

Emanuel and Pelosi have clashed at various points, particularly over the issue of former President Obama's signature legislation, ObamaCare. Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff circulated a plan to pull back from the issue of health care, but Pelosi insisted they stay the course. 

“Mr. President, I know there are some on your staff who want to take the namby-pamby approach,” Pelosi said, according to two people who were in the room, Time Magazine reported. “That’s unacceptable.”  

Many Democrats in recent days have come out in support of Pelosi, even those who have criticized her publicly. Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeHonoring John Lewis's voting rights legacy Teacher-centric is good, but student-centric is better The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases MORE (D-Ohio), who some Democrats had encouraged to run against Pelosi for Speaker, on Tuesday released a statement backing her.

There are currently 16 Democrats who have signed onto a letter saying they will not vote for Pelosi.