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Rahm rejects NRA suggestion to arm school staff on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" Transcript

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WASHINGTON--Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in an interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" rejected the National Rifle Association proposal, announced Tuesday, to arm at least one staffer in each school. The suggestion comes as the NRA is lobbying against a package of measures to reduce gun violence.

Emanuel spoke to Tapper from Chicago.

Highlights from CNN....

- Rahm rejected the recommendation of the NRA on arming school staffers " I think that is not what schools are for and that's not where you want the time and training for principals and teachers. "

- Rahm doesn't regret not spending more time on guns as chief of staff for President Barack Obama: "for people to then kind of look back and said, you know, in the middle of either the financial or the auto scandal, he should have done X, there are choices you make."

- Rahm on Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential prospects: "she has a lot to offer"

Click below for transcript


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins me now.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us. One of the recommendations issued today was that more individuals, more adults in schools become proficient in guns. I'm wondering your reaction to that.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: No, look, I think that is not what schools are for and that's not where you want the time and training for principals and teachers. You want that on the education of our children. There's a whole host of things to do different as it relates to safety in schools, but training principals and teachers on use of handguns is not one of them.

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor --


EMANUEL: -- be helpful.

TAPPER: -- a lot of people look to the city of Chicago when they say here's a city with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. And although crime and homicide has gone down this year, it still has a staggeringly high homicide rate. How do you reconcile that?

EMANUEL: Well, Jake, first of all, as you know, March, our homicides dropped nearly 70 percent; in February, it dropped 50 percent. And in the first three months are down a total of 50 homicides, 42 percent. So it's a very significant drop and one of the most -- March was one of the biggest one-month drops in the history of the city of Chicago.

Second is, it's, you know, people in the city of Chicago, there are gun purchases done in Indiana, brought over. So you need a uniform policy on gun control. As I've always said, it comes down to the four P's.

And it's not one of them; it's all of them: policing, and so being strategic about your police resources where you apply them; smart prevention, like after school programs and summer jobs to make sure kids have a positive thing to do and are out of harm's way; stiffer penalties, like a three-year minimum for gun crimes, first prevent people from getting guns -- criminals, second if the criminals commit the crimes there's swift punishment; and fourth P is sound parenting, teaching kids right from wrong.

And all four of those P's have to work.

TAPPER: The president is hitting the road tomorrow to start campaigning further for greater gun restrictions. Do you regret, when you were White House chief of staff, that the White House in the first term under President Obama, did not do more on this issue?

EMANUEL: Well, look, you know, as chief of staff -- and you remember, Jake, because you were there; you were covering it.

You were covering the decision to make -- to take the auto industry that was on its knees, to close to collapse, and make sure that those jobs were created and made sure that the auto industry came back to the point it is today, that it's adding more jobs than it was when the president was there.

That was a crisis he inherited; it was one that took a lot of time and painstaking work to fix in the same way that the economy was headed -- going head over heels towards what is now known as the Great Recession. And it took a lot on that aspect in the financial sector. And to govern, as President Kennedy said, is to make a set of choices.

And the president made a set of choices to put in place the things that were necessary, given the financial, economic and auto manufacturing crises that he faced, not one of them, not two of them, all three of them simultaneously.

And for people to then kind of look back and said, you know, in the middle of either the financial or the auto scandal, he should have done X, there are choices you make. And he has properly given post-Newton (ph) and part other things that have happened in America making sure that Washington now gets in place the gun control laws that are necessary to prevent criminals' access to guns.

But the notion that somehow in retrospect you should have pushed the auto industry crisis to the side, or the financial crisis to the side, you were there covering it; and you know that -- what the state of mind and where we were at that time.

So this is where he is now in the second term and taking control of this situation, making sure that we have, for the first time since when I was in the White House under President Clinton and was a point person for pass (ph) on both the Brady bill and the assault weapon ban that we have the opportunity actually to make progress on getting sound, comprehensive gun control legislation that works with policing, prevention programs and encouraging strong parenting.

TAPPER: Lastly, Mr. Mayor, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is speaking this evening and it's garnering a lot of media attention and buzz. She is the power player if she decides to run for president.

Do you think she is beatable if she runs for the Democratic nomination? Could anyone beat her?

EMANUEL: Well, I -- look, I think that's way ahead of yourself, Jake. But that would not be the first time anybody and me got way ahead of themselves.


EMANUEL: So, look, she'll speak; there will be a lot of excitement. She has, as you no doubt -- and you know how close I am to the Clintons and that she has a lot to offer if she decides to do that. And there's no doubt, both on her record as former first lady, secretary of state, senator from the state of New York, she has a lot to offer.

TAPPER: So you're not going to -- you're not even going to touch it, whether or not anybody could beat her?

EMANUEL: Well, we can go back and talk about the 69 percent drop in homicides in Chicago.

TAPPER: All right. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, thank you so much for joining us today.

EMANUEL: Thanks, Jake.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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