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Rahm Jests With Letterman, Backs President on Syria

By Ted Cox | September 9, 2013 6:52am | Updated on September 9, 2013 8:53pm
Rahm on Letterman
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CITY HALL — Rahm Emanuel called being mayor of Chicago the "best job I've ever had in public life" and backed President Barack Obama's stance on Syria in an appearance on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" Monday.

The mayor taped his debut on the late-night CBS talk show in New York City in the early evening Monday ahead of its airing locally on WBBM-TV Channel 2 at 10:35 p.m., although that was delayed by the network's U.S. Open tennis coverage. Snippets of their conversation were released to the media.

Emanuel was on, in part, to discuss his participation in "The President's Gatekeepers," a documentary on all 20 living White House chiefs of staff to debut at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the Discovery Channel.

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel did a Bill Clinton imitation on "Late Show With David Letterman" Monday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel did a Bill Clinton imitation on "Late Show With David Letterman" Monday.
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Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

Emanuel, who was Obama's chief of staff before leaving the White House in 2010 to run for mayor, compared the Syria situation to the then-unpopular auto-industry bailout during the great recession in 2009.

"He knows the country is not behind him. But he knows what he thinks is right," Emanuel said. "I think the Congress of the United States should make sure America stands tall at this moment."

Yet Emanuel uttered a brisk, "No," when asked if he wished he were still at the White House.

Emanuel jabbed at Letterman after the host cited his following both Mayor Richard Daleys and Jane Byrne into office, saying, "Your American history is unbelievable."

Yet he almost as quickly dismissed the earlier mayors, saying it was "time for a new chapter. Time for some changes. Both Richard Daleys, his father and himself, have done great things for the city. But it's time to get the city moving and on a new chapter."

Asked about his job as mayor, Emanuel said, "Love it. Best job I've ever had in public life."

Emanuel fended off questions about Chicago's gun violence, citing a 24 percent drop in homicides, and repeated his call for nationwide gun control, saying it was possible "as soon as you change Congress."

He addressed his infamous temper, explaining an incident in which he sent a dead fish to a pollster, but also did a comical imitation of President Bill Clinton.

Asked by Letterman why nothing was done politically after either the Newtown, Conn., school shootings late last year or the more recent use of chemical weapons by Syria, Emanuel said both required a quick response based on a strong moral basis.

Emanuel said he would run for re-election in 2015. Asked by Letterman if he had any plans after that, Emanuel said, "I was thinking of this late-time talk-show thing."