In an exclusive interview with ABC7, Daley was in a light mood but turned on the old Daley passion when talking about his handling of the budget, education and uniting a divided city.
"Remember this city was divided in 1989," said Daley during a break at a reception for European lawyers hosted by his new law firm. "It was a laughingstock of the world. People said look, Beirut on the lake, black and white...everybody is fighting, arguing. And I came with one motive - to be the mayor of all the people."
Daley brushed back implied criticism by Emanuel that the budget is an exercise in smoke and mirrors.
"We worked hard on budgets every year, and there is no magic solution," he said.
Daley also defended his record on education which was criticized as moribund and in need of new energy.
" We have wonderful teachers," Daley said. "You might have disagreements with the union, but we have wonderful teachers in Chicago."
Daley was complementary of Emanuel's handling of city affairs and gave him an A grade for the short time he has been in office.
"[Emanuel is] very honest, hard working...I think he is doing very well, you know, it has been a short time," Daley said. "Give him an A, an A-plus, a triple A...yes, he is doing a fantastic job."
Daley said Emanuel inherited a "great city."
"This city has a stronger foundation than any other city in the country, or in the world, so this foundation is strong because of its people," he said.
Maggie Daley is doing much better now after what the former mayor said was a very difficult summer for her. He said they stayed close to home in the months after he stepped down.