Is Obama Playing New York Against Chicago?

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WEST TISBURY, MA - AUGUST 23: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and daughter Malia Obama, 13, bike together on a bike path through Manuel F. Correllus State Forest while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard on August 23, 2011 in West Tisbury, Massachusetts. This is the third year the president has taken his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.  (Photo by Matthew Healey-Pool/Getty Images)
Photo: Pool/2011 Getty Images

The location of Obama’s presidential library — and of the Obamas themselves, post-presidency — has always been understood to be a competition between New York and Chicago, with Chicago heavily favored given the president’s history there. But today brings the latest in a series of reports teasing the possibility that Obama and his library really might come to New York, and, according to BuzzFeed, unnamed White House sources, and Representative Peter King — because who would know Obama’s plans better than King? —  it’s more likely than ever before. 

The shift is supposedly because of “messy Chicago politics and a personal craving for a new beginning” — the library location was supposed to be announced at the end of March, but that was recently pushed back until after the April 7 runoff for Chicago mayor. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s old chief of staff, has had an unexpectedly tough reelection race and his opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, at one point opposed using public land for the library, although he backtracked on that. There have also been protests and threats of legal action against the library in Chicago. 

Columbia University, meanwhile. has been quietly making its case with the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio. And Malia Obama, now a junior at Sidwell Friends in D.C., was recently spotted touring Columbia and NYU. Plus, Columbia is her dad’s alma mater.

It’s hard to know how seriously to take this latest report — New York could be leverage, or Obama could merely be delaying the official choice of Chicago until after Rahm gets reelected, as looks likelier now. And, of course, the president doesn’t have to live where the library is, so even if it does end up in Chicago, the Obamas could still move to New York. If they do decide to come here, we already have suggestions on where to live.

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