CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel insists he sympathizes with Occupy Chicago protesters and thinks they have valid concerns but says he can’t allow them to break the law.
“I don’t think they think anybody upstairs is watching out for them,” Emanuel told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent in an exclusive interview.
Unlike the wild scenes in New York, Oakland and elsewhere, the protestors’ confrontations with police in Chicago have been marked by warning after warning before officers quietly removed the remaining few from either Grant Park or a Chicago River bridge.
“We’ll protect your right to express yourself as the 1st Amendment enshrines in the constitution,” Emanuel said. “We’ll enforce the law as required by all citizens, and I as mayor I appreciate the angst that you’re addressing.”
The mayor sat down with Levine before a weekend of presidential politics in Iowa, where Emanuel will remind voters that President Obama kept his promises about ending the war in Iraq, pursuing terrorists and expanding health care.
“Part of leadership is not making promises you can’t keep but making promises that fix something and deliver, so that will be the context of the speech,” Emanuel said.
Levine pressed the mayor on the perception that conditions haven’t improved for most Americans since Obama took office.
“This question is, did he stop the bleeding and does he have an agenda to move this country forward? He stabilized the country that was in a freefall,” Emanuel answered.
Emanuel heads to Iowa Saturday to give a keynote speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, which is almost always given by presidents and presidential hopefuls.
Stop right there, Emanuel says. He says he has no interest in running for another office besides mayor of Chicago -– ever again.
“I gotta get re-elected, I don’t know if the voters want that,” Emanuel said. “We’re only six months into it. I plan on running for re-election.”