WASHINGTON--White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday morning he will stay on the job as long as President Obama wants him, with the question of his tenure 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."
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." Read my "Anatomy of a Rumor" column here where I go through all the speculation Quinn's unsourced 26 words prompted.
Emanuel was asked if he was going to stick around on the debut of MSNBC's "Daily Rundown," hosted by NBC News White House correspondents Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie.
Asked if he will pledge to stay in the White House through 2010, Emanuel said "Yes. I'm staying," and urged Daley, who he called a "very, very dear friend of mine and of Amy's and mine" (Amy Rule is Emanuel's wife)again to seek re-election. "I want him to continue to be a great mayor," Emanuel said.
Daley has not said yet if he will seek another term in 2011.
On whether he will run for mayor of Chicago, Emanuel--who gave up a safe North Side House seat to join the Obama administration--said, "The reason I left Congress to join the president is because I think it is a historic time with great challenges. And 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 has me here."
Asked if he wanted to come home to reclaim his fifth congressional district seat--no held by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) who has no intention of walking away from it, Emanuel said, "No Running for my old seat."
Emanuel did the interview from the White House briefing room on a chilly day. Said Emanuel, "And if I wanted to get ready for running for the mayor of Chicago we'd do the interview outside, where the weather seems to reflect Chicago