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Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

A 'Softer Side' of Rahm on 'Rock Center'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Get ready for Rahm Emanuel's close-up.

    In what was billed as his "first extensive interview since being sworn into office," Chicago's mayor got the profile treatment from NBC News’ Harry Smith.

    The piece aired Monday night on "Rock Center with Brian Williams," and showed a mayor always on the move, still "ferociously private" about his family and in constant pursuit of change for his new city. Emanuel appears as a less edgy version of his chief-of-staff self, seen in the interview shaking hands with CTA commuters and encouraging public schools students.

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    But some things don't change.

    CTU president Karen Lewis described a run-in with the mayor over a longer school day for CPS students. Lewis says she called the longer day "babysitting and warehousing" and Emanuel stood up and cussed her out.

    "He was extremely rude, let's just say that," Lewis said.

    Another thing Emanuel's not budging on: a presidential run.

    "No, not, not interested," Emanuel said. "Give me a piece of paper. I'll sign it. Not interested."

    Indeed Emanuel appears to have a soft spot for Chicago and the city's next generation. He said his largest worry isn't the Windy City's poor fiscal situation, it's the kids who "can see downtown and yet for them it's miles and miles away. ... I don't know whether I have the ability to affect that."

    Could his ballet past help him in the mayoral role? In some ways, yes.

    "You can't be a dancer without being disciplined and you can't succeed in politics if you're not disciplined and driven," Emanuel said.

    Harry Smith's exclusive profile of Rahm Emanuel, "Rahm's Way," was part of Monday's broadcast of Rock Center with Brian Williams. The show airs at 10 pm/9 ct on NBC.