WASHINGTON -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday he will stay on the job through 2010 -- or as long as President Obama wants him --and that he is not going to run for mayor of Chicago.
Questions about his tenure and political ambitions were sparked by rumors that he may want to return to Chicago to run for mayor.
On Saturday, in a attempt to tamp down gossip about his possible departure, Emanuel said in a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times: "Mayor Daley is a great mayor for a great city. He has my full support and it is my hope that he will seek re-election."
Emanuel gave up a safe House seat and a path to becoming speaker someday to join the Obama administration. At age 50, he has many years ahead to look for political openings (mayor, governor, Congress) whether he serves two years or more in the Obama White House before returning home.
Gossip about Emanuel's future was triggered Jan. 5 when Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn wrote 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."
Daley, in his 20th year as mayor, has not announced yet if he will seek re-election in 2011. If Daley did, it would close down the Emanuel rumor mill.
Emanuel was asked if he was going to stick around on the debut of MSNBC's "Daily Rundown."
Asked if he will pledge to stay in the White House through 2010, Emanuel said "Yes. I'm staying." And asked, "you're not going to run for mayor of Chicago?" Emanuel said "no."
"As I said over the weekend, Rich Daley's a very, very dear friend of mine and of Amy's and mine," Emanuel said, referring to his wife.
"Two is I think he is a great mayor of a great city. Three, I would hope he seeks re-election because I want him to continue to be a great mayor. And, fourth, the reason I left Congress to join the president was because I think this is a historic time with great challenges, and I wanted to do -- I was pleased to get offered to do this job, and I'm pleased to stay here as long as the president wants me to stay here. And I plan on staying as long as he would have me here."
There has also been chatter through the year Emanuel might return to Chicago to reclaim the 5th Congressional District seat now held by Rep. Mike Quigley -- who has no intention of walking away from it.
Asked about another House run, Emanuel ruled it out. "No running for my old seat," he said.
Anyway, Emanuel himself said a tell-tale sign he was not running for mayor was doing the interview inside, instead of outside on the chilly Monday. "If I wanted to get ready for running for mayor of Chicago, we'd do the interview outside, where the weather seems to reflect Chicago."