September 9th, 2010
09:25 PM ET
12 years ago

Jackson says no decision yet on mayoral run, slams Emanuel

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said Thursday he has not yet decided whether he will run for mayor of Chicago, but nonetheless launched an attack against Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is exploring a candidacy for the same office.

“I’ve not made that judgment yet,” Jackson said when asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King if he will run for the mayoral office opened by the retirement of Richard Daley, the Chicago legend who served as mayor for more than two decades.

But it certainly sounds like Jackson, a Democrat from Illinois’ 2nd District, is angling for the job, painting Emanuel as a Washington insider who has “profound weaknesses” on a local level and someone who would “have to answer the questions about those communities that have been left behind.”

“As chief of staff he is an outside Washington hand. He works in Washington, and so he has the big money, He has the fame. He has potentially the charisma. And don’t get me wrong, Rahm has tremendous strengths that he brings to the debate, but there are some profound weaknesses and many of them are very local. This is an organization town, and there will be a reaction,” Jackson said on CNN’s “John King, USA.”

If Emanuel does decide to jump in the race, he will have the backing of President Obama, who said Thursday that his top aide would "be an excellent mayor." But Jackson said Emanuel’s presence would turn the Chicago race into a referendum on Obama administration policy.

“[I]f Rahm Emanuel does make the decision to run for mayor of the city of Chicago, it will become a national campaign. It will not be a local race run by local candidates debating just local issues. It will be about urban policy, it will be about the president’s agenda. He has served as chief of staff. The president’s record will probably be brought into that campaign,” Jackson said.

And when asked what the Obama administration has done wrong, Jackson lamented the persistent unemployment in the nation’s urban centers.

“Well there is significant unemployment that is challenging many of our cities,” Jackson said. “There is a $650 million deficit in the city of Chicago. Urban America is demanding an urban policy to put Americans back to work.”

Emanuel has in the past expressed interest in the job, telling Charlie Rose of PBS in April that, "[O]ne day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That's always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives."

Emanuel had planned to be in Chicago this weekend for fundraising events for local candidates. Earlier Thursday, a spokesman told CNN the White House chief of staff nixed the trip due to scheduling conflicts.

But a Democratic official tells CNN it is clear that Emanuel wants to avoid a media firestorm as he considers whether or not to run for mayor.

-CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Illinois • Jesse Jackson Jr. • Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. cjr

    Not going to happen Jesse !
    you have some splainmg to do re your efforts to buy obama's senate seat your political career is over. go away!

    September 9, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  2. A Former Democratic Army Veteran

    lord please help us to ward off imbeciles like this from public office. This is beginning to become sickening.

    September 9, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. poor chicago

    doesn't look like there are any good choices so far.

    September 9, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  4. Ashamed American

    Get a real job Jackson. Your family can't leech off MLK's legacy forever, you loser.

    September 9, 2010 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. Roy, St. Paul

    Ugh, Jackson is clearly the embodiment of being a Washington insider. He is a career politician; a boy who cries wolf, but offers not solutions for the community!

    September 9, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. Keith in Austin

    Any Chicagoan that would vote for either one of these seedy Liberals needs to have their head examined!

    September 9, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  7. Toni

    Run Jessie Run,

    We will Always Love You Man.

    Ride on King Jesus...........Ride On

    September 9, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  8. Yonas

    no one want jackson for anything.

    September 10, 2010 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  9. Bill

    Sorry, bur jesse,rahm and uhbama are all losers.

    September 10, 2010 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  10. Toughlove

    The poor people of Chicago. Really.

    September 10, 2010 01:24 am at 1:24 am |

    I hope people remember that Congressman Jackson supported then Senator Obama for President even though it was obvious he wasn`t the best qualified. Personally I don`t think he can criticize anyone else through President Obama`s economic policy without criticizing himself.

    September 10, 2010 07:35 am at 7:35 am |