Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears on Meet the Press on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011.
Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, defended President Obama's job performance, especially when it comes to stabilizing the nation's economy -- but admitted more must be done. And from Emanuel's standpoint, that means government-funded jobs to re-build roads, bridges, water systems, and other infrastructure.
"We have a 21st Century economy sitting on a 20th Century infrastructure," Emanuel said, using Chicago as an example. "(Take) our water. About 50 percent of the water pipes are 100 years or older."
Emanuel said government bail-outs had been the right thing to do in the darkest days of the recession, and without them, the U.S. economy would look a lot more like Europe right now.
"You look at America's financial system today, and its financial industry today, verses Europe that took a pass on it? He showed political leadership, even when it wasn't popular," Emanuel said. "Take the auto industry. Everybody said, the conventional wisdom, even sometimes discussed on Meet the Press, said let it go bankrupt. Why have good money after bad? Today, we're stronger because of those leadership positions."
On a roll, Emanuel used the moment to take a swipe at Republicans.
"There would not be an auto industry if Mitt Romney was president. He would have said, 'let it go bankrupt,'" Emanuel argued, pointing out that the country is now "importing" auto industry jobs, rather than watching them go overseas. He used word of Ford's likely addition of 1,100 jobs in Chicago as an illustration.
Emanuel said that during his time in the West Wing, he saw a president who made the tough decisions that needed to be made.
"I often advised the president about doing the quick political thing, and he looked at the long-term, and he rejected the quick and political because it was in America's interest," he said. Emanuel used his bully pulpit to give Mr. Obama some advice: focus on reinvigorating the American dream.
"People have to feel in their lives some improvement and some opportunity of improvement for them and their children," he said.
With the appearance on MTP, Emanuel seems to be cognizant of keeping his own national political profile alive. That's something sure to please at least one political analyst, who just this week called on Emanuel to run for president himself in 2016.