WASHINGTON -- Chicago political tea readers were pondering on Tuesday what was behind the timing of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's admission to PBS' Charlie Rose that he wants to run for mayor of Chicago when Mayor Daley quits.
After all, Emanuel tried mightily in January to douse chatter about his mayoral ambitions when such talk first surfaced. The staunch Daley loyalist said then he hoped Daley would run for another term in February 2011.
Back then, there were no on-the-record quotes from Emanuel about his interest.
Why, then, did he open up when Rose asked him Monday afternoon: "Is there any other job in government you'd like to have?"
Emanuel responded, "One day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago."
Emanuel told me Tuesday night he never intended to go as far as he did with Rose. The question came up at the end of a wide ranging interview. The usually disciplined Emanuel says he slipped up.
Earlier in the day, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who is at odds with Emanuel over the slow pace of comprehensive immigration reform in the Obama White House, told me, "I am sure every word that he spoke was not some sort of off-the-cuff remark but calculated to achieve some political goal.
"When I see Rahm Emanuel, [from now on] I don't know if I am talking to the president's chief of staff and if that is his chief priority, or if I am talking to a future candidate for the mayor of the city of Chicago," Gutierrez said.
FOOTNOTE: Emanuel never liquidated his political war chest when he joined the White House; as of April 15, he had $1,175,109.76 cash on hand that could be transferred to a mayoral campaign.