(CBS/AP) — Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and other big-city mayors met Monday to discuss the plight of poorer residents.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted colleagues from other cities at Gracie Mansion. They pledged to push for higher wages, expanded pre-kindergarten programs and increased Internet access for l0w-income neighborhoods.

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A task force released a report showing that the gap between the nation’s richest and poorest had increased dramatically.

“We want to make sure every family that chooses work raises children not in poverty but in the middle class,” Emanuel said.

The Chicago mayor, once known for being an “enforcer” for his political bosses, showed himself a principal strategist for the U.S. Mayors Conference, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

He was also lauded as an example for other big city mayors facing the same problems.

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“We want more people part of the middle class,” Emanuel tells Levine. “I’m trying to avoid playing one part of society off of another and say that we have a common goal.”

Emanuel declined to address head-on questions from Levine about the mayor’s political problems back home, where he may face a re-election challenge from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

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