Emanuel said last week that his relationship with the Obamas remained strong. The new Chicago mayor and his wife attended a private party at the White House a few weeks ago, and Emanuel said he and the president spoke as recently as Saturday. Emanuel also recently made a joint appearance with Michelle Obama in Chicago as part of a campaign to eliminate "food deserts," or areas with few or no grocery stores.
Emanuel also remains a staunch defender of the president, but has said his duties as mayor would make it impossible for him to campaign for Obama as he has in the past. Still, he spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party's largest annual fundraiser in November, and a few weeks earlier during his appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press," he touted Obama's accomplishments and took shots at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Obama's campaign said other Chicagoans also are rallying behind his re-election campaign. "In Illinois alone, volunteers have already made over 260,000 phone calls, have held over 900 events," Ben Finkenbinder, a spokesman for Obama for America, said in an email.
But others doubt Obama would see the outpouring of support he received in his hometown in 2008. Dawn Clark Netsch, a prominent Chicago Democrat who once served as state comptroller and now teaches at Northwestern University's law school, wonders whether young people will campaign like they did when they felt they were part of history.
"What I hear is the young people aren't talking about this as much," she said. "This is not the transformational moment it was then."
Associated Press Writer Sophia Tareen contributed to this story.
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