Richard Daley still calls his former job as Chicago mayor “the best job in America.”
Since leaving city hall, Daley has stayed out of the spotlight and has waved off most interview requests. Nearly a year after the death of his wife, Maggie, Daley sat down with NBC Chicago to discuss the love of his life, his take on current politics and how he really felt about all those news conferences.
Of his wife, who died on Thanksgiving 2011 after a nine-year battle with breast cancer, Daley remarked on her selflessness and determination to survive.
"She did everything possible to be positive," he said. "[She tried] experimental drugs. Whatever happened, she wanted to help somebody else that would be inflicted with the disease."
Over the years, Daley said he relied on his wife as a sounding board. One time he came home discussing a labor situation and an idea to ask teachers to take 15 furlough days without pay.
“I got home and Maggie said that’s the dumbest idea. [She said] not one governmental employee -- local, state or federal -- would give 15 days of free time. Why would you ask teachers?" Daley recalled of his wife's reaction. "I basically apologized. It was a mistake.”
Shifting to politics, Daley strayed away from commenting on Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s current crisis but notes, “so many people were involved in this Blagojevich situation.”
"It was so complicated,” he said, adding that he believes “one day we will find out what the whole story was about.”
As for the presidential election, Daley said he isn’t surprised by the outcome: “I knew he was going to win, I never felt he was going to lose.” He blames pollsters for dividing Americans and in the end chalks it up to baseball preferences.
"This is politics," he said. "It’s like liking the Cubs or the Sox. Simple as that.”
And believe it or not, after all those years of news conferences, all that bantering back and forth – Daley actually now admits “I enjoyed them, I guess. My mother would call, [saying] you’re getting too mad."
"No," he explains now. "I just have a red face!”