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Rahm throws water on claim he is considering a presidential run

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel campaigned Wishbone restaurant north Lincoln ave. Thursday January 27 2011. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel campaigned at Wishbone restaurant on north Lincoln ave. Thursday January 27, 2011. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 17, 2013 6:35PM



WASHINGTON — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking on chores for President Barack Obama’s new political operation as the president hits Chicago on Friday to sell his second term agenda, and City Hall on Thursday night was scrambling to throw cold water on a report Emanuel is interested in a White House bid.

Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, was here on Thursday — taking meetings at the White House, including one with Vice President Biden — and in the Capitol, with members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

The Daily Beast reported that Emanuel “is said by well-connected Democrats to be considering the idea of running for president if Hillary Clinton opts out of the 2016 race.”

Emanuel, the story said, “has had discussions both over the phone and face to face in the past month with Democratic Party donors and fund-raisers about a possible White House run, according to sources.”

I’ve got several inter-related story lines going here:

♦ Obama’s Chicago stop at the Hyde Park Academy, 6220 S. Stony Island Ave., is intended to highlight the “ladders to opportunity” Obama talked about in his State of the Union address Tuesday: education and local development programs designed to vault more people into the middle class.

Obama is also going to address the gun violence that took the life of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton about a mile from his Kenwood home on Jan. 29 — a murder he highlighted in his Tuesday speech. He is expected to be meeting privately with about two dozen youths who are part of the “Becoming A Man” program at the school.

♦ Emanuel, will be amplifying Obama’s middle class message on Saturday, hosting a tele-town hall being staged by “Organizing for Action,” the non-profit created out of the Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign tasked with rallying the public behind Obama’s agenda.

The OFA will have offices in Chicago and Washington and is just starting to prospect with donors to raise the millions of dollars it will take to make it viable. Emanuel raised millions for Obama’s 2012 election SuperPAC and has been raising money for his own political war chests, activities that take him into the world of big-time donors who love to speculate about 2016.

♦ Amid all this comes the Daily Beast story.

“He’s not running for president,” Emanuel spokesman Sarah Hamilton told me, the same denial that’s been issued in the past when Emanuel presidential talk flares up.

Indeed, last May, Emanuel signed a note for Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman that said “I, Rahm Emanuel, will not run for another office — EVER.”

The story, by Lloyd Grove, a former Washington Post reporter, centers on blind quotes regarding what Emanuel may have been saying to the donor world. Emanuel does almost all his fund-raising events in secret and conducted much of his solicitations for Obama SuperPAC last year over the phone.

Hillary Clinton has laughed off every question she’s been asked about any 2016 ambitions, and that hasn’t done anything to douse speculation she may make another White House bid. In other words, for mega political figures like Clinton and Emanuel, one does not run at this stage. One must just exist.

And when it comes to the denial department, Emanuel has a track record that is spotty.

In early 2010, the Washington Post’s Sally Quinn reported that “Emanuel is said to have told people that the chief of staff role is an 18-month job and that he is considering a run for mayor of Chicago.”

Emanuel and his team at the time issued strong denials and did everything they could to shoot down Quinn’s story. Until he started running for mayor.



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