Rahm Emanuel on why mayors are the most important leaders in the US

The former mayor of Chicago and White House chief of staff for President Obama discusses his new book, "The Nation City: Why Mayors are Now Running the World."
3:24 | 02/24/20

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Transcript for Rahm Emanuel on why mayors are the most important leaders in the US
We are back with the mayor of Chicago for two terms, Rahm Emanuel. He has a new book, "The nation city: Why mayors are now running the world." Tell us why mayors are running the world. First of all, Washington, Brussels, London are not really doing their job and all the weaknesses of those cities -- nations match up with the strengths of cities. Cities are immediate, and impactful. You say Washington is falling apart. Is there something in the news that you have seen recently that doesn't say that? Take a look at education. Chicago added four years of educational time. Full-day kindergarten, full-day pre-k. You get a B average in high school, community college is free. Five other cities are now doing that. Six other states. Nobody has been called to Washington to testify. The secretary of education hasn't asked anything, and it's one of the most significant changes in education, free community college, and nobody is interested. You talk about cities and mayors are learning from each other. Yeah. Ideas that -- think of, like, the new deal. Workers' comp, and other policies. They would start locally and then move up. Today rather than vertical, the ideas move horizontally. For example in Chicago, smart light bullables. Led lighting with other things. We replicated that idea. We started the first free community college. 8,000 kids did it. Boston is doing it, Denver is doing it. San Francisco is doing it. Oakland is doing it. It's just now moving around, and nobody has either testified or been called to -- how's it working? In the city of Chicago, 81% of the kids that use it, free community college, first ones in the family to go to college. Their retention rate and completion rate are double or triple the national average. Why is it that nobody is talking about it? We talk a lot about policy, and it's the inspiration you drew from your family. Pi kids said, don't talk about grandpa because I will start to get choked up. So my grandfather came to Chicago, came to America from eastern Europe. 13 years old, put on a boat and his mother -- never saw her again or saw his family again. He makes his way through Chicago, meat cutter, steel worker, truck driver mainly, and we used to go Sunday nights to the family to his house in Albany. When he left the west side and makes it to Albany park, he thought he had made it. I used to joke in the family, my dad was a cop. My dad was a pediatrician. I was a congressman representing Albany park. I said we traveled many miles, but didn't go very far in life. Did you ever imagine you would be the mayor of the city of Chicago? He could if he could say, you're a schmuck. That tells you about the strength of this country that within a generation and my dad's an immigrant from Israel. The city that welcomed him and gave him all the hustle and bustle, his grandson that he used to say would amount to nothing, and he may be right still, would become the mayor of the city of Chicago let alone the chief of staff to the president of the United States.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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