All 6 mayoral candidates meet

February 10, 2011 9:06:53 AM PST
Chicago's mayoral candidates met for a forum less than two weeks before the election.

For the first time, all six were there.

Ex-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is the frontrunner in the polls. That also means he is the main target of the other five candidates. On Wednesday night, all of the candidates for the first time sat right next to each other at a community forum hosted by the Chicago Defender.

"We have to make some of the tough decisions. It will take a level of strength, determination, resilience and vision to see that through," said Emanuel.

Emanuel laid out his vision for the city's future. Our exclusive ABC7 telephone poll suggests that he is leading the pack. The poll, conducted February 3-7, found that 54 percent of the 600 voters interviewed support Emanuel. Gery Chico is second with 14 percent. Miguel del Valle followed with 8 percent and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun got 6 percent.

"I don't pay much attention to polls one way or the other. I'm running to get every vote in this city. I believe we're doing well," said Chico

"It is not a level playing field for all the candidates, but at the same time, we feel that we're doing very well," Moseley Braun said.

Emanuel's latest campaign ad is drawing criticism from his opponents. It features video of his White House sendoff, including words of praise from President Barack Obama when Emanuel departed as chief of staff.

"I think the ad is dishonest, because unless Barack Obama, President Barack Obama has made an endorsement, this ad should not be used to mislead people," said Del Valle.

Besides Wednesday night's appearance, Emanuel has been noticeably absent from some community forums. He has responded to that criticism in the past saying his schedule is packed, reaching out to voters on a smaller scale. A major topic at Wednesday night's debate was the city's budget shortfall -- $600 million and counting.