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Chicago To Launch Unified Bid For Obama Presidential Library As Competition Grows

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President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in the White House library in Washington. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Hawaii may be President Barack Obama's childhood home, but Chicago is where he developed professionally and keeps close political and personal ties, or so goes the gist of the Windy City's argument for why it should be the future home of the president's library.

A new report from the Chicago Sun-Times suggests the future Obama presidential library is the University of Chicago's to lose "given its very close ties to the Obama family and its long list of wealthy potential donors in the Obama orbit."

Still, competition for the honor remains tense. Obama's Hawaiian supporters have had designs on the presidential library since as early as the 2008 Iowa caucus.

Recently, Columbia University in New York City admitted to eyeing the library for themselves after previously denying it was making a bid.

“While it is premature to comment on a library selection process that has yet to be initiated, Columbia looks forward to learning more about the objectives that will inform President Obama’s ultimate decision when that information becomes available,” Robert Hornsby, the school's associate vice president for media relations told the Sun-Times.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- who served as Obama's former Chief of Staff -- revealed to the Sun-Times this week the city will one unified bid for the library rather than individual institutions -- including UIC and Chicago State University -- making "solo plays."

“We are going to run a process. But my goal is to have the City of Chicago, with its major educational institutions, have a single proposal,” Emanuel told the paper. Although the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville has also been among the considered Chicago sites, the Sun-Times reports City Hall feels it's "too big and too costly to develop."

If the artifacts and records indeed went to a Chicago-based presidential library, Hawaiians would take a presidential center, institute or think tank as a consolation prize, according to the Christian Science Monitor, which noted President Bill Clinton made a similar move when he chose Arkansas for his library but New York City for his foundation efforts.

"We really don't see it as an either-or proposition," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told the Monitor in December. "We see no reason that the president has to be forced to choose between his two hometowns."

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