Obama Says Rahm Emanuel Would Be ‘Terrific’ Chicago Mayor

The president added that his chief of staff would likely wait until after midterm elections to decide.

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BY Aliyah Shahid
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Now that's a good endorsement.

President Barack Obama said his chief of staff would make a "terrific" Chicago mayor on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday.

But the president said Rahm Emanuel is currently busy at the White House and anticipates that Emanuel will wait until after Nov. 2 to make his decision.

"My expectation is he'd make a decision after these midterm elections," Obama said. "He knows that we've got a lot of work to do. But I think he'd be a terrific mayor."

Longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced unexpectedly this week that he wouldn't run for a seventh term, leading to speculation that Emanuel, 50, might enter the race.

Emanuel—known for his hot temper — was born in the Windy City and has long expressed interest in running for mayor.

But even though Obama wants him to hold off until after Nov. 2, several political analysts told Politico that it may not be possible.

"He'd have to start putting together an organization immediately, Larry Bennett, a political science professor at DePaul told the website.

While the Chicago primary is on Feb. 22, candidates are required to file a petition with 12,500 signatures by Nov. 22.

And if Emanuel does file in time, a win is far from guaranteed – even with the president's blessing.

As many as 10 candidates could throw their hats into the ring, possibly including William Daley, the mayor's brother and former U.S. commerce secretary, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

[See who donates the most money to Jackson Jr.]

"He's an opportunist," John McCarron, an urban affairs writer and adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago said of Emanuel. "But he's got his work cut out for him."

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek called Emanuel a "formidable" contender, pointing out that he was elected to the House in 2002 without previous experience in an elective office. But he said an official endorsement from Obama, a former Illinois senator, is not guaranteed either. The president, he said, would be caught in a "tight spot."

"Obama will feel loyal to Emanuel, whom he begged to leave the Congress in 2008 and come work for him amid the economic crisis," Alter said. "…The president owes him. But that doesn't mean he would necessarily wade into a Democratic primary and endorse him over other politicians he has also known for years."