Emanuel: Obama only gave me one-hour heads up on G-8 switch
BY DAVID ROEDER AND LYNN SWEET Staff Reporters March 7, 2012 7:42PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens during a forum on education at American University in Washington last week.. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:32AM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he had only an hour’s advance notice of his former boss’ decision to move the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.
The mayor said he saw no slight or embarrassment for Chicago in President Barack Obama’s move. Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff, said he “takes at face value” Obama’s explanation that Camp David would be a more relaxed setting in which the world’s leaders could connect.
“I heard about the White House decision when I got off the plane in New York about an hour before you guys” got it, Emanuel said in an interview with the Sun-Times. He was in New York on Monday, he said, to talk to companies about moving jobs to Chicago.
The mayor also said his wife, Amy Rule, is expanding her role as Chicago’s first lady by leading a Chicago delegation to Belgium on March 21. The delegation will brief NATO officials on Chicago’s plans for the NATO summit here t May 20 and 21.
Joining Rule will be Gov. Pat Quinn and 70 “ambassadors,” local leaders deputized to promote Chicago. Quinn, the first Illinois governor to travel to Europe in 14 years, will make a pitch for bringing European business to Illinois.
The G-8 and NATO affairs were to have been back-to-back at McCormick Place. In keeping the NATO summit, Chicago still has the event with the largest number of attendees.
“The nature of the summit has changed but the economic value and the job opportunities still exist for the city,” Emanuel said. He said drawing NATO, with the expected participation of more than 50 countries, fits with his stated priority of increasing international tourism to Chicago.
The mayor would not speculate on whether losing the G-8 will reduce costs for summit preparations. But he stated flatly that “taxpayers will not pay” for any summit costs because of ample private donations and promised federal reimbursements.
Other members of the Belgium delegation include Lori Healey, executive director of the summit host committee; Don Welsh, president of the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau; and Rita Athas, president of World Business Chicago.