President Obama said Rahm Emanuel would be an "excellent" Chicago… (Larry Downing / Reuters )
Reporting from Washington — President Obama said that his now-former chief of staff would be an "excellent" Chicago mayor, offering strong support for Rahm Emanuel's still unannounced campaign for the office.
"I think he would make an excellent mayor, and he would bring an incredible energy to the job," Obama said in an interview in the Oval Office, following an East Room event announcing Emanuel's departure.
Earlier Friday, during his last morning staff meeting, Emanuel told the president's top aides that he was proud of the work he'd driven them to do.
"I know that I pushed you all very hard," Emanuel told the approximately 35 staffers gathered in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. "But I did it in service to the president, and I believe that our whole country is better off for it."
Critics and opponents are ready to question Emanuel's record, but Friday was a giant pep rally for Emanuel at the White House.
At the end of the morning meeting, Emanuel got a standing ovation from the senior staff.
As a final gesture, some staffers offered Emanuel a going-away gift, a reference to the dead fish he once wrapped up and sent to political enemies.
Chicagoan Austan Goolsbee and the policy staff delivered Emanuel a dead dish -- an Asian carp -- wrapped in copies of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.