Watch CBSN Live

Rahm Emanuel Residency Hearing Turns Circus-Like

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

Ordinary Chicago citizens questioned mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday -- but some of their questions were far from ordinary.

At a daylong hearing before the Chicago Board of Elections, Emanuel answered questions on everything from the first name of the current mayor to his familiarity with the phrase, "smiling like a butcher's dog."

The hearing was part of an inquiry into whether President Obama's former chief of staff has standing to run for mayor - or whether he is disqualified because he has spent much of the last two years living in Washington.

Most questions did focus on that very issue. But others bordered on the abstract and absurd.

"Have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" asked one Chicago resident, who admitted later that he was joking. Emanuel, after grinning, laughed and said he liked the question.

Another man asked Emanuel if he knew the first name of the current mayor.

Emanuel answered, saying it was Mayor Daley.

The questioner, referred to as Mr. Black, then asked if Emanuel knew the mayor's first name -- and if it was "Bill" or "Maggie."

After Emanuel answered correctly that it was Richard, the man was told by the board's leader that many of his questions were irrelevant, among them those related to the 1992 siege at David Koresh's compound in Waco, Texas.

Others asked more pointed questions, including a woman who asked if Emanuel had personally fired former United States Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod and whether or not he had made derogatory remarks about the Congressional Black Caucus.

Emanuel leased out his Chicago home when he became White House chief of staff. He says he left valuable possessions, such as his wife's wedding dress, in his home because he intended his Washington residency to be temporary.

Emanuel says he rented an apartment in Chicago on October 1st of this year. (His current tenant won't vacate the property - and was briefly himself running for mayor.) His wife and children still live in Washington, where Emanuel says they will remain while his children finish out the school year.

View CBS News In