President Barack Obama’s visited Chicago to designate the Pullman Historic District a national monument, but his visit also had political undertones.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at the Pullman event at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, shortly before he and the president paid a visit to one of his South Side campaign offices.
"Today we are renewing Pullman's promise," the mayor said, giving praise to the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy and its principal.
Emanuel introduced President Obama, calling him a friend and remembering his days as a young community organizer.
Mayoral candidate Alderman Bob Fioretti, who once led the Pullman Foundation, was not invited to the event, but fellow challenger Willie Wilson did.
After the event, Obama made an informal stop at a campaign office in his ward with Emanuel to thank volunteers.
“Rahm Emanuel is somebody who cares deeply about this city, he cares deeply about the children of this city,” Obama said. “He’s been willing to make some really hard decisions on behalf of those children and on behalf of our future. I’m glad he’s my mayor, and I’m glad he’s going to be my mayor for another four years.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said the White House practice of not appearing with a candidate right before an election applies only to foreign leaders and not domestic politics, noting that Obama and Emanuel have been friends for many years and remain in close touch.
“The president has supported the mayor’s elections in the past, campaigns in the past, and he supports this one as well,” Schultz said.
Schultz added Thursday’s stop in Chicago had been in the works for some time and was part of a series of announcements of national monument designations.
“The president’s designation of this area is again one that’s been on our radar for a very long time,” he said.
The president supports the mayor’s campaign because he thinks Emanuel has been a strong mayor for the city, Schultz said.