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L.A. mayor: "I did what mayors do" to end teachers' strike

In a speech that felt as though it might pick up and head to Iowa any day, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighted his administration's response to the six-day teacher strike that resulted in his first all-nighter since college. "I did what mayors do," he said at a speech for an the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

"When we see a problem, we fix it," Garcetti said about the negotiations that reversed the hiatus of America's second-largest school district.

Amidst the longest government shutdown in United States history, the pitch for tireless deal-making resonated loudly throughout the ballroom of mayors, all quick to contrast their city's checklists against a backdrop of "broken Washington."

"I know that if this room stormed Capitol Hill, we would get this shutdown taken care of in a few hours," Garcetti said.

Closing out his keynote, Los Angeles' youngest mayor declared "it's time to demand that Washington follow our lead instead of the other way around ... It is time that our nation is led from the bottom up and not from the top down. My friends, it's time to flip Washington on its head."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivers remarks at The United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivers remarks at The United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2019. Reuters

Despite an FBI probe and ongoing homelessness crisis stirring troubles on the homefront, the 47-year-old mayor told reporters to "stay tuned" for the possible announcement of a 2020 presidential bid. "I don't have one," Garcetti said when pressed about his timeline for a decision. He said the teacher strike "stopped my thinking" about the political future for weeks.

In 2018, Garcetti traveled to  New Hampshire on more than one occasion, and he made additional stops in key primary states such as Iowa, Nevada and Florida.

The Democratic Party has never selected a mayor as nominee, nor chosen a candidate who hails from west of the Texas border. Those barriers, Garcetti said, are not deterring him.

"I think we have a TV reality star as president. We had our first African American president," Garcetti said. "The time for obviously trying new things – in both positive and sometimes negative ways – is upon us. I don't think it's about your résumé anymore."

Another new thing to try? A cabinet full of mayors, Garcetti suggested with a grin. "I've kind of fantasized about it," the former Los Angeles councilmember conceded at a press conference, hypothetically floating Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan as Attorney General and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as Treasury Secretary. "You have all these folks who would know how to do homeland security, who would know how to run things on day one."

If he decides to jump into the 2020 race, Garcetti will not be the first mayor to enter the presidential pool. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Wednesday he is forming an exploratory committee for president.

"I get the underdog nature of this project," Buttigieg told reporters Thursday, "but you've got to have a path." The 37-year old veteran and first openly gay candidate for president doubled down on his Oval Office vision.

In response to one question about Garcetti's "cabinet of mayors," Buttigieg responded, "I don't believe in running for an office so you can have some other office. I believe you have to have a vision for that office, even if it's narrow."

With over a year until the Iowa caucus, that narrow path could see more travelers hoping to pave a trail from City Hall to the White House. Bloomberg visited Iowa in December, while current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN earlier this month, "I never rule things out because you never know what life brings."

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