GMA asks Rahm about 2016 presidency

June 1, 2011 9:57:53 AM PDT
New Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for Emanuel's first national TV interview since becoming mayor.

First, the two talked about President Barack Obama. Emanuel said he believes Obama can be re-elected if he focuses on basic concerns that people discuss over dinner in their homes.

Emanuel also discussed Obama's possible opposition, including Jon Huntsman, who may run for president on the Republican ticket. Emanuel helped Huntsman become ambassador to China and said he did not expect Huntsman to be a presidential contender. Emanuel said no matter who Obama faces, the current president will face scrutiny after inheriting a country in financial trouble.

"The auto industry was on its back. And a lot of the leaders of the Republican Party said, 'Let it go,'" Emanuel said. "He made a lot of decisions where people were second-guessers. It saved 1.2 million jobs in this country. And we are stronger for it because he was ready to sail against the wind. Just take one industry. Not counting the financial, not counting the recession, and not counting the war in Iraq. That's all of the decisions he made in the first three months."

Despite a national background, Emanuel said all poltiics is local. Before becoming mayor, Emanuel served as a congressman and worked on presidential campaigns. He also served as White House chief of staff for Obama.

"That's how I got this gray hair," Emanuel said.

But Emanuel says the difference in local politics is getting to talk to his constituents, discuss crime issues with residents, meet with police leaders and visit schools.

Emanuel's election has been a jolt to a city run by the Daleys, father and son, for decades. But the goodwill Emanuel has been welcomed with, including one woman who came back from Mississippi to vote for him, may be tested. Emanuel must now take on high crime, underperforming schools and a budget crunch left by his predecessors.

"I do think the public is ready for a change. To Mayor Daley's credit, he knew it was ready for a change. He left a great city. But there's a change that has to happen. I just announced 500 police officers from clerical positions to the streets. Day 1, I wasn't even in the office 24 hours, and I cut the budget," Emanuel said.

Emanuel claims to have "shut the revolving door" of crooked politics in Chicago as well. Staffers who work for Emanuel can't lobby for two years in the city council. Last week, the city council passed its own, additional ethics ordinance.

Stephanopoulos concluded by addressing rumors of a possible 2016 presidential run for Emanuel.

"I have a job here to do. And that's all I'm focused on," Emanuel said.

"Never think about it?" Stephanopoulos said.

"You know my wife. No," Emanuel answered.

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