Emanuel would be ‘excellent’ mayor of Chicago, Obama says

Tribune Washington Bureau

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would do a good job as Chicago mayor, President Obama said in an interview Thursday morning, but he predicted Emanuel’s decision about whether to seek the office likely wouldn’t come until after the November congressional elections.

Emanuel is currently focused on his job at the White House, where there is a long to-do list at the moment, Obama said.

The president’s party is bracing for a tough election, with Democratic majorities in Congress at risk. “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,” Obama told ABC’s’ George Stephanopoulos. “And so, my expectation is he would make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Obama stopped short of officially endorsing Emanuel and did not offer a guess as to whether his aide and hometown friend had decided to seek the office being vacated by Mayor Richard M. Daley. Emanuel has said for years that he would like to be Chicago mayor and has told friends in recent months that if Daley didn’t seek the office, he would think seriously about doing so.

White House officials haven’t said yet whether Obama would offer a public endorsement or any other kind of support to Emanuel if he chooses to seek the office. On Thursday, though, he came close.

“I think he would be an excellent mayor. He is an excellent chief of staff,” Obama said. “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. ... But I think he would be a terrific mayor.”