“I’ll give it to you if you are really that interested,” the 51-year-old mayor of Chicago says, sitting in a City Hall conference room one day in late June. “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I swim a mile in a 50-meter pool. I do a short chest exercise. Then I run two miles home. Tuesday and Thursday, I do 25 miles on the bike on random level 15, 15 minutes on the elliptical. You don’t want to know this, but I do 100 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, and a weight routine. Saturday, I bike 20 miles outdoors.” On Sundays, Emanuel attends a yoga class, to undo the side effects of his running and biking.
In this odd adventure, Emanuel, 51, is something of a trailblazer: there are 17 living former presidential chiefs of staff, yet none have departed the White House for anything quite so humble as a bid for municipal office. James Jones, an Oklahoman who held the job under Lyndon Johnson, went on to serve a few terms in Congress; Dick Cheney, who staffed Gerald Ford, represented Wyoming in the House; and Erskine Bowles, who steered Bill Clinton through the Lewinsky saga, lost two U.S. Senate bids from North Carolina. But it’s something different to walk away from Situation Room crisis meetings, visits to foreign capitals, high-stakes budget negotiations and the Sunday-morning talk-show circuit for a rough-and-tumble world in which speedy garbage pickup can make you a hero and unplowed snow can ruin you.