Emanuel kicks off 'Tell It Like It Is' tour

October 5, 2010 4:34:18 AM PDT
Rahm Emanuel isn't an official candidate for mayor yet. But he sure looked like he was running for office during what was called a listening tour of Chicago Monday.

There were dozens of reporters and cameras following Emanuel's every public move Monday, and the city election is still four and a half months away.

Emanuel called it a "listening tour" and that's what he did for most of the day. He stopped to talk only once Monday afternoon and only for a few minutes.

By mid-afternoon, the "Tell It Like It Is" tour had arrived at Devon and Kedzie, where for the first time in five months, Rahm Emanuel answered Chicago reporters' questions about the mayor's race.

"I want to bring my level of energy, commitment and focus on these issues that I have worked my whole life on to helping build the city, the greatest city in the greatest country in the world," Emanuel said.

On Monday night at the Diversey River Bowl, Emanuel shook hands and signed autographs, trying not to strike out with his momentum and message.

"The crime on our streets, the safety of our schools, the opportunity for economic development and the energy, the determination and the strength to deal with our city government," he said.

Emanuel's tour began at a Roosevelt Road public transit stop. It continued at Izola's restaurant on the South Side, where the former White House chief of staff was confronted about the neighborhood's high unemployment.

"I can take you out the door right now and show you: we don't work in our community," said the man.

Over the weekend, the one-time North Side congressman opened a website which included an on-camera re-introduction of himself to Chicago voters.

"It's good to be home again," Emanuel said in the video.

But another website, Politico, reported Monday the video was made at a location in Washington, D.C.

In Pilsen, Latino supporters for another possible candidate for mayor, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, demonstrated, chanting "Rahm, no. Gutierrez, si." They say that during Emanuel's 20 months in the White House he did not prioritize immigration reform.

"This community, this city consists of immigrants; it's a sanctuary city, he does not belong here," said Tanya Lozano, Luis Gutierrez supporter.

But Emanuel, himself the son of an immigrant, was undeterred as he visited Devon Avenue, where merchants from around the world have set up shop.

Emanuel walked Chicago's neighborhoods Monday without security. Just three to four days ago he had Secret Service escorts most places that he went during the day.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Tom Dart, another possible candidate, said he did not feel pressured to announce his own campaign for mayor. He said he will take his time.

"If you are going to go about doing something like this, you have to make sure that you feel confident that you do the job very well and you can get elected," Dart said.

Dart, of course, is running for re-election as sheriff on November 2. But the South Sider did say he had talked to political consultants about running for mayor in 2011.

Last April, Emanuel was the first potential candidate to say he would like to be the mayor of Chicago should Richard M. Daley not run again.

Daley announced last month that he would not seek a seventh term as mayor.

Emanuel joins a crowded field of Democrats who have announced or hinted that they're running. Among them are Chicago School Board president and close Daley ally Chico, Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and state Sen. James Meeks, who's also the pastor of a church in the city's South Side.

Another potential mayoral candidate, former senator Carol Moseley Braun, was also out listening to voters Monday morning.

Before Emanuel's announcement Sunday, Chico called on him to release details about his dealings with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration in regard to the U.S. Senate seat once held by Obama.

Blagojevich will be retried next year on federal charges that allege he schemed to sell the seat after his first trial ended in a mistrial. Emanuel was not called to testify and hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.

Del Valle said in a statement before Emanuel's announcement that he welcomes "all candidates to the race and look forward to a spirited campaign."

"This is the first time in 67 years that there is an open seat, and a crowded field will ignite interest and give voters choice," del Valle said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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