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Transcript of remarks by Rahm Emanuel as NATO Summit draws to a close

Transcripts of remarks by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a news conference Monday evening, as the NATO Summit drew to a close.

“First, I  want to thank President Obama for his leadership of the United States, and his love for his home town — the city of Chicago. As the president said, just about an hour ago, he couldn’t be more proud of Chicago’s success in hosting the summit, and I want to thank the president for giving us that opportunity, and I couldn’t agree more.

“Because of the summit, Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain came to Chicago for the first time. Not only did he take in the beauty of Chicago from our green rooftop at the City Hall, he held his press conference at the top of the green rooftop. He met with entrepreneurs at 1871, and leaders of Chicago companies to expand our economic ties. The Prime Minister and I talked about strategies as it relates to education and what we could do to exchange ideas.

“I also met with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who commented on the beauty of Millennium Park, who was also here for the first time, and we discussed a cooperative agreement between our two water departments. We talked about making O’Hare the North American hub for the Dutch flower trade, where they control 75 percent of that global industry. In addition to that, for both the Dutch and the British prime ministers — key allies of the United States — this was their first time in the city of Chicago. That is also true for the Prime Minister of Spain, who went on a architectural boat ride of the city of Chicago with the German foreign minister. I spoke with the German foreign minister, who also was in Chicago for the first time, who noted that Germany is interested in further investment in the Chicago area. There are more Chicago companies that are thinking about moving their North American headquarters here to the city of Chicago.

“Now before I go further, I want to say a special thank you to the people of this great city, to our public safety officers of this great city, to the business community of this great city. I can’t tell you how many times world leaders mentioned how kind the people of the city of Chicago are, how beautiful the city was and how clean our city was. They commented on both the natural beauty of our city, as well as the grandeur of our architecture, and I think the president in his own remarks mentioned how many of the world leaders commented to him. As the president said, Chicago’s people showed that we are the city of Big Shoulders. We are also a world-class city that can put on a world-class event.

“I want to take a special moment to thank all our men and women in police uniform. They did a tremendous job under very stressful situation over the last four days, and they made every one of us proud of the finest police department in this country. I went and thanked them personally at the end of Randolph Street, and shook hands with 400 to 500 of them, to thank them, to tell them how proud the city is of their job. They showed their resolve, their self discipline and the professionalism. In fact, their discipline, their resolve — I commented jokingly to them. I said, ‘I thought you’d taken my recommendations, a suggestion of yoga a little too seriously, given you’ve found a new Zen. ...

“I think hosting the largest NATO summit in 63 years’ history, we have reached another milestone in Chicago’s history. As the Columbian Exposition in 1893 showed the world that Chicago is a city on the move at the end of the Nineteenth Century, the NATO summit showed that Chicago is once again a city on the move at the start of the Twenty First Century. By hosting the NATO summit, we have reinforced, reaffirmed and revitalized Chicago’s role on the world stage. While Chicago has the title of “Second City,” because of the NATO summit, we have shown the world that we are a world-class, first-class city.

“Now NATO, as you know, is a number of nations — very different nations, different languages, different ethnicities, all bound together in  common purpose. That is also the story of the city of Chicago, which is why it’s so rightful we hosted the first summit in the United States outside of Washington D.C. We are many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but also joined together in common purpose, in common love for this great city. And I think this was a world-class event held in a world-class city by people who showed the character and qualities, which also captured all the world leaders’ imagination. So my hat’s off to our city, its people, its police officers, its fire department, all the people here at OEMC, water department — all the different departments — transportation department [that] went into putting this event on over the weekend. I want to thank them, as the mayor, for a job well done. With that, I’ll take some questions.”

Q: How do you respond to merchants who complain their sales were down during the NATO summit?

A: “Two things — if I can back up. One, when we originally were planning this event, which was, according to the convention bureau, was like a full-blown major convention. Originally, we had the restaurant convention moved earlier two weeks. So we got two conventions, not one. That one was worth $105 million worth of economic activity for the city — the restaurant [convention]. This is another convention that also brought in a lot of business. I’ve talked to a number of — my office has — talked to a number of businesses downtown. Theater — they said that they had the same amount of people. Restaurants said that as well. Hotels clearly occupied. I never believed, and I said this, that businesses should have closed or shutter. I’m sorry for any inconvenience, although I think for the long-term, as well as I think for the immediate term, there will be a benefit for the city. The goal as you know, while we have done a great job as a city on our convention business, we are tenth in our tourism. We are fighting below our weight class. And if we move to ninth from 10th nationally, that’s 25,000 jobs and a billion dollars worth of economic activity. And for a world-class city — the Parises, the Berlins, the New Yorks, Los Angeles — that host this type of events, you view that so that you can usher in a type of recognition that will drive tourism. And in addition to not only this event, we’ve also reorganized — as you know — our convention and tourism offices. We collapsed three of them, and now we’re spending more resources advertising in Chicago to drive so the businesses will see the type of economic benefit in the short-term as well as the long-term.”

Q: Please talk about the threats that were made against you, and the demonstration in your front yard?

A: “I wish they’d mowed the front yard. ... Don’t worry about my security. What I worry about is the security of the people of the city of Chicago. If everybody is as secure as myself and my family, then I have done my job, and that’s my focus. I’m fortunate. I have the Chicago Police Department — as mayor — protecting me. What I worry about, what I focus on, what I want all of us who are in responsible positions to focus on is protecting the people of the city of Chicago. On a personal note, if I can, everybody can do what they need to do from a protest. I don’t have any gumption about it. I have an office; that’s where I work. If it’s a public dispute, go there. But if people choose they want to go to my house, that’s their choice. As it relates to public safety and my personal security, the people who are responsible for it do a fabulous job. My goal — I don’t think about myself — I think about the people of the city of Chicago and my responsibilities to them and their public safety, and that’s what I work on.”

Q: There was a projection that the NATO summit would bring in more than $100 million. Given all the closings and the media’s coverage of the clashes between protesters and police, do you have any doubts that this was worth the price?

A: “That’s actually not the full story. When Prime Minister Cameron was at the top roof of the city of Chicago doing his press conference, they saw the skyline of Chicago. When I’ve seen all the recording and coverage by your colleagues in the international press, they all talk very favorably about Chicago. That’s number one. Number two: To put in perspective, if I can, that picture, for a moment, having looked at a number of events, .... If Seattle in 1999 was a lesson of what not to do, I think Chicago will be a lesson of what to do. Our police department did a tremendous job over four days, and they handled themselves with incredible discipline and professionalism. And for those that doubted that over the months leading into this, I think they’ve learned a lesson of how strong and good and well led they are, and their professionalism, which is why I personally wanted to thank them just a moment ago. Number two, let me say something about that picture [a front-page newspaper photograph of Chicago police clashing with protesters], which is slightly different  than your interpretation, and that is:  There are protesters — both the nurses, the CANG8 and the veterans, who have a legitimate chance to express their views and their opinions. Those people [in the photograph] aren’t protesters, and you shouldn’t collapse the two. Those aren’t the nurses. Those aren’t the veterans. Those aren’t the people who disagreed with the NATO policies, and you shouldn’t collapse them and make them in the same lens. They’re not the same people. The protesters have a legitimate view, legitimate ideas — the nurses did; even if you don’t agree with them or you do. The last few people in that picture weren’t people trying to express their First Amendment right and their political views about certain things. That’s one. I do think the city of Chicago was seen around the world, and also here, and a lot of people commented how great the city was, and [they] did that both as journalists as well as international leaders. And that’s a picture they saw of Chicago. The other piece of your comment ... there is going to be, and Deloitte Touche did a study — and you can walk through it. We put no money in, and we’re going to get an immediate economic benefit of about $120 million, and that was worth doing.”

Q: You met with 400 to 500 police officers. How did they describe their experience? 

A: “My main thing was to get a chance to personally thank them. I have throughout the weekend. I’m going to continue to do it, to thank them. As I said, I joked with a number of them that I said, “I never realized you guys took my advice about doing yoga and finding your inner Zen.’ They have done that. They are tremendously professional, and all I did was thank them. Given that there were 400 to 500, I try to make as much to go around and thank them. I didn’t get a chance to do that. That’s probably a more appropriate question for [Chicago Police Supt.] Garry McCarthy, Al Wysinger and the leadership, as well as the rank and file, who can give you that first hand. I wanted to go there before I came here to personally thank them. Ok, so I don’t really have the full answer on that.”

Q: From meeting NATO leaders, how many cards did you collect, how many deals are in the offing?

A: “I don’t want to mess up the deals by being public about them yet. Let me just say, I mentioned to you the meeting with Prime Minister Cameron,  the Prime Minster of the Netherlands. Look, there’s a tourism piece of this that’s immediate. Let me just kind of step back. Prime Minister Cameron — Great Britain, you could say America’s great ally — has never been to Chicago. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands has never been to Chicago. Prime Minister of Spain — never been to Chicago, major allies of the United States. Not only did they come, their press corps came, their foreign ministers came. ... I met with the defense minister[s] of Italy and Spain; It was part of a forum. Never been to Chicago. Now, there are a couple of things we’re working on. There’s policy exchanges on education, economic ones as it relates to O’Hare, as well as our water departments. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands knew of what we were doing on our water infrastructure investment because of their geography and topography. They are making major investments as it relates to not only water, but given their issues, about maybe a cooperative agreement. Those are just two examples, not counting all the others for some Illinois-based companies that also will have opportunities around the world that will create further jobs here and trade. So that’s just kind of an example of the things. ...”

Q: Did police have no other option but to push back protestors Sunday?

A: “I wasn’t there, but I do know this: They, I think, showed the city and the country why they are the finest police department in the country. They showed themselves —  both from Thursday night, Friday and Saturday and Sunday —  exactly an example of that. I wasn’t physically there, but I don’t doubt they did it in a very professional manner.”

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?

A: “Well, it’s not just myself, I think the president was proud to have this in his home town. It’s the largest NATO summit in the history of NATO in 63 years. Sixty-one world leaders came here, not counting defense ministers, foreign ministers, as well as their press. I think this was a very successful event for the city, and, in my own view, put it in the context of how also the world expo in 1893 worked for the city’s advantage near the turn of the century. And I think this will achieve that as well.”

Q: Would you like to do this in a year or two?

A: “Let me just say this: We just finished the Nobel laureates about a month ago. NATO — well, it’s not done. I think the president’s wheel will go up in about an hour. Today I spoke to the international summit on nutrition. As I joked earlier, we only do international summits that start with the letter ‘n.’ It was a very successful event. You don’t do these annually, but it achieved the objective for the city. And my goal now is to continue to achieve the economic opportunities — both through tourism that will lead to further economic growth and job growth for the city of Chicago. The test isn’t whether we want to do it a year from now. I think this one was a success, and we have — to be honest — I think there are other things on the agenda as it relates to our safe streets, stronger schools and stable finances, so we can continue to grow our economy and jobs. Thank you guys.”

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