President Obama has cut a campaign ad endorsing his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, for a second term as mayor of Chicago.
“Even though I’m working in Washington right now, Chicago is my home. It’s the place that made me who I am. That’s why I care so deeply about who leads our city,” Obama said in the ad, which will begin airing Monday.
The president goes on to praise Emanuel as a “key part of my team at the White House” — while acknowledging that the notoriously prickly mayor can, at times, “be a little hard-headed.”
Obama also appears to mount a subtle defense of the mayor’s controversial effort to close dozens of struggling neighborhood schools.
“He loves our city, and he believes every child in every neighborhood should have a fair shot at success,” Obama says, adding that Emanuel will do “what is right, not just what’s popular.”
The endorsement comes as Emanuel is pushing for a new city ordinance that would move 20 acres of public parkland to city control if the president decides to build his presidential library in Chicago. The move is an effort to bolster the bid of the University of Chicago, where both the president and first lady worked before entering the White House.
The city and university say they would replace the parkland elsewhere in the city, but the plan has drawn some amount of controversy.
The endorsement also comes despite the president’s last foray into Illinois politics. Obama repeatedly appeared on behalf of and fundraised for former Gov. Pat Quinn ahead of November’s elections, but the Democrat lost to businessman Bruce Rauner.