Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel blasted the president’s talk of a “grand bargain” on taxes and spending with the GOP as “foolish,” demanding that those hopeful for such a deal “shut up” because “they don’t understand politics.”

In a video for Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, the former presidential aide who worked in Bill Clinton’s White House, also hinted of a run for higher office.

Bragging about Chicago’s smart workers, he said “we’ve got to keep that edge, which means schools.” He added with a smile: “The most important thing for the future of the city, let alone for the country, but I’m concerned right now about the city, is making sure we have a top-level, top-flight education system.”

His “right now” comment revived speculation of a presidential run, first suggested by the Daily Beast website earlier this year.

His comments came in a popular video feature from the Harvard Institute. Called “3 with IOP,” the Institute has guests at the college for meetings and speeches sit down to answer three provocative questions. In this case, they focused on Chicago and national politics.

When asked how Congress and White House can come to some agreement, Emanuel ripped talk on both sides of a “grand bargain” on the economy, a goal that has diminished after the recent 16-day government shutdown. In July, Obama offered a new grand bargain framework -- which went nowhere.

Criticizing his former boss and the GOP, Emanuel said:

“The elite have got to shut up about a grand bargain. It’s not going to happen. The differences are too big. And every time everybody puts this rabid, ‘Let’s go for the grand bargain,’ they are setting up the system, they don’t understand politics, they should just stop talking about it, since they don’t get it.

“We can hit, unfortunately the system needs something like that, but what we can achieve is singles and doubles in the economic system, whether thats on immigration, whether that’s on taxes, whether that’s on other types of fiscal issues.”

Then he added: “This notion that you’re going to set up a system to constantly try to achieve something, you cannot constitutionally do it, it’s foolish.”

He also had some advice for the GOP, which he said is being controlled by a “vocal minority.” Emanuel said that “they need a Bill Clinton moment,” apparently referring to when the former president dropped his liberal agenda for a more moderate plan, accepting the GOP’s push for a balanced budget and welfare reform.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at