(CBS) – Two weeks from today, President Barack Obama will leave the White House. With him will be members of an administration that’s always been dominated by Chicagoans.
Arguably the most influential is senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
CBS Special Contributor Jay Levine is just back from Washington, where he interviewed the president and his senior advisor.
It was the first time any reporter from Chicago had been invited into the White House to speak one-on-one with the president. Levine had 10 minutes with him, but far more time with Jarrett, the former aide to Mayor Daley, friend of Michelle Obama, and now the president’s constant companion.
“I didn’t think I’d even know a president of the United States, let alone work in the White house,” Jarrett says. “Even though my parents always said you can do whatever you want to do, I never dreamed of this kind of an opportunity.”
To be the confidante of the de facto leader of the free world, who yesterday told me about trying to deal with the epidemic of violence in his hometown.
“It’s obviously something that tears apart at his heart, worries him deeply, profoundly,” Jarrett says.
Both plan to try do something about it — the president when he becomes a private citizen again. As for Jarrett, she deflected attempts to determine if she would run for office.
“I want spend some time continuing to be a force for good,” she says.
She adds: “It’s premature for me to even speculate on something as important as that. I think that’s the kind of decision you have to make when you are well-rested and well-relaxed and have some distance from this experience, and it’s not a decision one should make lightly.”
Whether or not she runs for office, her decision about where she will be is already made.
“After eight years of living away, whenever someone says where do you live I always say in Chicago, I’m visiting DC but I live in Chicago so, I look forward to being able to spend more time back home,” she says.
Eight years ago, Jarrett was viewed as a candidate to replace President Obama in the U.S. Senate, but ultimately took herself out of the running. She served as Mayor Daley’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Planning Commissioner and CTA Board Chair, but if she does decide to run for office, it would her first campaign, as a candidate.