“They have never been in an executive position before,” Rendell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The rule of thumb is whatever you did, say it and get it over with and make it a one-day story as opposed to a three-day story. Politicians are always misjudging the intelligence of the American people.”
Known for his blunt critiques of fellow Democrats, Rendell did not hold back during the interview.
The public, said Rendell, understands Obama and his aides would have an interest in who fills the Senate seat, and some contact with the governor's office — and that Obama should have said as much at the outset.
"Did Rahm Emanuel who took Rod Blagojevich's seat in Congress have contact with Rod Blagojevich? Of course he did," Rendell said. "They may have thought he was the craziest S.O.B. in the world. But you still have to have contact with him."
The criminal complaint essentially exonerates Obama and his staff, Rendell said, because it quotes Blagojevich as saying the president-elect would offer him nothing but appreciation for appointing Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to the position.
“Blagojevich curses them out,” Rendell said. “It is easy [for Obama to] just say, ‘Hey folks here it is, of course we had contact.'
"But they made the mistake of making it a four or five or six day story.”
Obama issued a tepid statement on the first day of the scandal, issued a call through his spokesman for the governor’s resignation on the second day, and pledged Thursday to release details his staff’s contact with Blagojevich’s office in the coming days.
Emanuel turned testy and declined to talk with a reporter who approached him Thursday at Chicago City Hall, where he was watching his children perform in a concert. The Chicago Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.
“You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel said. “I’m not going to say a word to you. I’m going to do this with my children. Don’t do that. I’m a father. I have two kids. I’m not going to do it.”
When pressed for comment, he said, “I’m not as capable as you. I’m going to be a father. I’m allowed to be a father,” and he pushed the reporter’s digital recorder away.