After barely addressing the subject for several days, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday told the Chicago Sun-Times that the White House notified him about moving the upcoming G-8 summit just an hour before they told the media.
“I heard about the White House decision when I got off the plane in New York about an hour before you guys” got it, Emanuel told the Sun-Times. Emanuel was reportedly discussing Chicago job opportunities in New York Monday.
When the White House released a statement about moving the international economic summit from Chicago to Camp David, Maryland, Emanuel was not the only person taken off guard. Activists and reporters wondered if it was a sign Obama doubted Chicago's preparedness, but the president dismissed those theories Tuesday.
"I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues," Obama told reporters Tuesday. "We know how to deal with a crowd and I’m sure your new mayor will be quite attentive to detail in making sure everything goes off well."
In a brief statement issued Monday, Emanuel's office said it wished "President Obama and other leaders well," and that the city looks "forward to hosting the NATO summit."
Chicago officials began planning for the back-to-back summits last summer, predicting it would give the city a chance to shine internationally, while the police rank-and-file worried whether they would be prepared to handle the thousands of protesters expected to converge downtown.
The idea of moving the G-8 to Camp David was raised to the president a few weeks ago, a senior administration official told the Associated Press, adding that the president was intrigued by the novelty of the idea and asked staff whether they could pull off the change. Obama told reporters Tuesday that world leaders would enjoy being in "a more casual backdrop" for the G-8 summit.
"Chicago gets to host all the heads of state at the NATO summit. And the president hosts the G8 meetings at Camp David, which is essential for the kind of environment he wants," Emanuel told John Kass of the Chicago Tribune earlier this week. "We're still going to show Chicago to the world and the world to Chicago."
On Wednesday, the mayor reiterated to the Sun-Times that taxpayers would not be footing the bill for the NATO summit, which will take place May 20 and 21 at Chicago's McCormick Place.