CHICAGO - Rahm Emanuel is better known for tough talk than as a master of diplomacy.
But sources say President Joe Biden is considering the former Chicago mayor as a potential ambassador to a country in Asia.
While Emanuel was President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, he also worked closely with then-Vice President Biden. Both men had been leaders in Congress, moderate Democrats who sometimes clashed with the party's left wing, including Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"Rahm Emanuel represents a wing of the Democratic Party that has close ties to Wall Street, close ties to the business community, which I think is destructive to the United States of America and, especially, the Democratic Party," Sanders said in 2016.
Sources say that opposition from the left prompted Biden not to name Emanuel Secretary of Transportation, a cabinet post that went to former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, just confirmed by the Senate.
A member of Congress told FOX 32 news Biden is now weighing whether to name Emanuel ambassador to a large Asian trading partner: either Japan, a close ally, or China, an increasingly hostile rival.
"In dealing with China, in particular, I think you want someone in that role who can be tough, who can be fearless, who can sit across the table during negotiations and really have that edge to your personality and style," said Chicago alderman Brian Hopkins.
President Obama’s ambassador to Japan was Caroline Kennedy, who, in public at least, used a lighter touch and seemed to revel in the role's ceremonial side. Alderman Hopkins, an early Biden supporter, says this new president may be looking for a different style.
"If you were to put together a list of Rahm Emanuel’s political skills, I don't think diplomacy would be, say, in the top five," Hopkins said.
When it comes to American jobs and the economy, few foreign countries are as important as China and Japan, guaranteeing that President Biden’s ambassador to either one will get a lot of attention.