Obama: Emanuel to decide on Chicago race after midterms

The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty discusses a possible Rahm Emmanuel run for mayor of Chicago.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 10:58 PM

President Obama said Thursday his chief of staff would likely decide about a mayoral run after the midterm elections, adding that Rahm Emanuel would "be an excellent mayor" of Chicago.

"He is an excellent chief of staff. I think right now, as long as he is in the White House, he is critically focused on making sure that we're creating jobs for families around the country and rebuilding our economy," Obama said on ABC's Good Morning America in an interview with George Stephanopoulos.

"And you know, the one thing I've always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him. And so my expectation is, he'd make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we've got a lot of work to do. But I think he'd be a terrific mayor."

Emanuel's departure is likely to mark the beginning of a wider White House shake-up, officials said Wednesday, one aimed at helping the administration regain its footing in the aftermath of anticipated Democratic losses in the midterm elections and positioning President Obama for a tough 2012 reelection fight.

Such a reorganization is not unusual at this point in a presidency and particularly in a White House such as Obama's, which has been running full out for two years - grappling with two wars, a financial crisis and an ambitious policy agenda. Many of its key players have begun to let it be known that they are burned out and looking for an exit or a new role.

The stresses have also exposed weaknesses in a White House operation that many in Washington have come to regard as too insular.

Especially for those who also were involved in Obama's two-year campaign, "this is sort of the end of year four, not necessarily the end of year two," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters traveling Wednesday with Obama. "So I think there's no doubt that there will be people that return to their lives and their families."

"But we've got a while before that," he added. "We've got about two months before this election before we get to a lot of those decisions."

Those will indeed be busy months, not only because of the election but because of the press of business at the end of the congressional session.

Obama, however, may not have the luxury of waiting before beginning to decide how he wants to reshape the White House operation for the second half of his term.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's announcement Tuesday that he will retire "came out of the blue," said one official, who agreed to speak about internal deliberations only on the condition of anonymity.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company