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Emanuel's Chicago residency questioned

| December 15, 2010 8:00 PM

CHICAGO (AP) - Rahm Emanuel, who left a powerful job with President Barack Obama at the White House to move back to Chicago and run for mayor, endured nearly 12 hours of questioning Tuesday from everyone from attorneys to a woman named Queen Sister - all intent on keeping his name off the ballot.

Testifying before a Chicago election board official during a hearing that was sometimes funny, contentious and downright strange, Emanuel defended himself against claims by opponents who say he is not eligible to run for mayor in February's election because he moved out of the city to take a job as Obama's White House chief of staff.

Speaking in a quiet voice, his hands clasped before him and a photograph of his family in front of him, Emanuel looked and sounded nothing like a politician widely known for his tough, take-no-prisoners and often profane style.

Throughout the day, he appeared relaxed and smiled easily, once joking as his income tax returns were shown on the screen in the room that, "It does call for tax reform, I'll tell you that."

And he laughed when one of his questioners, a community activist, signaled he was out of questions when he joked, "Have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"

"I enjoyed that," Emanuel said.

But Emanuel also addressed the issue of his leaving Chicago with what his attorneys and supporters believe is powerful evidence he fully intended to return.

He listed the family's "most valuable possessions" that he left in his house after he and his family moved to Washington, D.C., in 2009, including his wife's wedding dress, clothes his children wore home from the hospital just after they were born, photographs, his children's report cards and their drawings.

He made special note of leaving behind a coat that his grandfather gave his father a half century ago.

"It's the only possession I still have from my grandfather," he said.

He repeatedly came back to a theme he has been sounding throughout his campaign to succeed the retiring Mayor Richard Daley: He only left his job as a Chicago congressman and moved his family to Washington to work for the president.

After about nine hours of testimony, Emanuel began taking questions from his own attorneys.

He testified he never thought about making any place other than Chicago his permanent home and said "it never crossed" his mind that he might not satisfy the residency requirement to run for mayor.

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