Daley calls for ‘patience’ as Obama takes office

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Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was more impressed with Barack Obama’s willingness to suspend his campaign and travel to Hawaii to visit his ailing maternal grandmother than he was with any policy change or stump speeches made by the senator.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was more impressed with Barack Obama’s willingness to suspend his campaign and travel to Hawaii to visit his ailing maternal grandmother than he was with any policy change or stump speeches made by the senator.

Exactly two weeks before the Nov. 4 presidential election, Illinois’ junior senator said he was going to stop campaigning for a few days and go to Hawaii to be with his “Toot” who was reported to be suffering from undisclosed critical health issues.

Daley said the move demonstrated that Obama “has set his priorities straight. His grandmother has been a great influence on him and he has campaigned all year in the primary and general elections, and just out of respect, it is the role model thing to do.”

“She’s very ill and he’s saying, ‘I’m going to have time with her.’ That’s commendable. It sets a nice tone in the country and is an example for other people in the country to remember their loved ones,” the mayor said.

Earlier in the campaign when Obama was winning primary after primary, Daley said Obama should continue to campaign as though he was the underdog. For Daley, that strategy did not change.

“I always thought you have to be the underdog, and that if you are the winner every time, they will set you up for failure. Things can change very quickly in the technology age. He has put a very, very good campaign together and you have to give him credit,” the mayor said.

Obama’s other appeal to Daley is that the 46-year-old senator “is the first one (president-elect) since JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) who really grew up in a city. We have not had a president who understood urban issues,” Daley noted. “And not just Chicago (issues), but metropolitan issues. Sixty to 70 percent of the people now live in urban communities.”

The mayor added that Obama was “bringing a new agenda because he knew that Washington wasn’t working. He was down there a couple of years, and he saw it wasn’t functioning.

Nevertheless, an Obama presidency naturally will generate expectations that the Hyde Park resident will have Chicago in the center of his administration’s radar, but Daley cautioned against such thinking.

“I’ve told everybody, let’s not raise our expectations so you’re not upset in a week, two weeks, a month, two months. This is a very challenging economy he has been placed in. It is not like any other time.”

He added that he is confident Obama understands that the way to get the country back on track is through jobs and putting people back to work.

“I have told everybody who comes running up to me, even mayors, ‘Let’s have some patience,’” Chicago’s mayor said.

He also noted that the election centered on the economy and today people are frightened about what the next year bodes economically.

“And that is why people want a change,” he added.

Furthermore, the mayor said Obama’s international policy skills are solid, but we should look for an Obama administration to first solve domestic problems.

“We have to put confidence back in America No. 1, and the way we do that is by providing job opportunities and get businesses going. And No. 2, at the same time, is education. Those are the two priorities.”

Meanwhile, Daley, who is in a record sixth term for a Chicago mayor, said he has not provided counsel to Obama, nor has his advice been sought. He said Obama has surrounded himself with good people who are advising him well.

The mayor spoke of an optimistic future with President Obama when he said, “The federal government is not leading by example, but Obama will change that.”

He added that the former Illinois State Senator and now President- Elect of the United States of America has been telling Americans the truth and will continue to do just that.

______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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