Since then, he has been frequent defender of the president, using his stature as mayor of the nation's second-largest city and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to laud Obama's agenda. On Monday, Villaraigosa hailed Obama's budget proposal for its investment in infrastructure and job training.
"The president has come through for our nation's cities," Villaraigosa said in a statement. "Now it's Congress' turn: the House and Senate should put politics aside and pass the president's budget."
Villaraigosa has said little publicly about his political ambitions once his term ends in June 2013. Speaking last month at USC, he told students that "I'm operating right now like I'm at the end of the road and I'm riding off into the sunset."
He said he intends to write and give speeches and was prepared for "a timeout."
Privately, however, Villaraigosa has expressed interest in running for governor and has fueled speculation he might even challenge Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat, should Brown seek reelection in 2014.