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Rahm Emanuel's Temper Flares Over Question About Kids' Schooling (VIDEO)

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First Posted: 07/21/11 11:19 AM ET Updated: 09/20/11 06:12 AM ET

It was the question everyone was wondering throughout the Chicago mayoral campaign: when is Rahm Emanuel going to lose his cool?

The former White House Chief of Staff is famous for his expletive-laden rants at friend and foe alike, and observers wondered if he might slip up and blow a gasket on the campaign trail. But from day one, he seemed to be carefully cultivating an image of unflappable calm. In the face of all manner of challenges, from being attacked on policy to being temporarily kicked off the ballot, Emanuel stayed calm.

Two months into his term as mayor, he's finally let some of that old temper flare.

In an interview with Mary Ann Ahern of NBC Chicago, the reporter asks the mayor about where his children will be going to school. Rumor has it, she added, that his kids would be attending the prestigious, private University of Chicago Lab School.

"Great! So, it's a rumor," the mayor responded, apparently irritated. But Ahern persisted. Why not just say? After all, the kids are "in a public position now," she said.

Then he got cold.

"Oh, Mary Ann, let me break the news to you. My children are not in a public position. The mayor is. ... No, no, no, you have to appreciate this. My children are not an instrument of me being mayor. My children are my children. And that may be news for you, and that may be new for you, Mary Ann, but I want you to understand -- no, no, no, you have to understand this. I'm making this decision as a father."

After his answer, he put on his trademark wry smile -- the one he wears when it seems like he's barely resisting the urge to punch someone in the face -- unclipped his microphone and walked out, ten minutes in to a 20-minute interview.

The mayor's desire to keep his family out of the public eye is understandable, and there has been relatively little media attention on his wife and children. But where a politician sends his children to school has long been a matter of public curiosity -- think back no further than when President Obama chose Sidwell Friends for his kids, for instance.

And for a mayor who has made the city's schools a central focus of his administration, you might imagine that he would be prepared for a question about his own school choice for his children. Instead, though, as he reportedly said on the phone to Ahern after the interview, "My children are private and you will not do this."

UPDATE: The icing on the cake? Later on Wednesday, Emanuel gave an "exclusive interview" to CBS, confirming that he was in fact sending his son and two daughters to the U of C Lab School. A spiteful dig at NBC?

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Filed by Will Guzzardi  |