Sneed exclusive . . .

New York is where they’d rather be.

So let’s cut to the chase.

Sneed is told by impeccable sources that President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, want to live in New York when they leave the White House.


“They want New York, plain and simple,” said a top Sneed source who asked to remain anonymous — but has a relationship with the Obamas.

“It’s not an unusual decision,” added the source. “The Clintons moved to New York after Bill Clinton left the presidency. It’s a happening place.”

“They love the vibe in New York and don’t plan to have their main residence in Chicago,” a second source said.

“Is Chicago not big enough anymore? I’m told the Obamas feel New York is the right place to be for the next phase of their lives,” the second source added. “I don’t think the emotional tie to Chicago is what it once was. Perhaps not sophisticated enough.”

“I can’t imagine either one of them making their home base here,” a third source added. “New York is what they want. They are both going to be traveling; being on boards; making speeches; earning a lot more than a White House salary. It’s called the presidential gravy train.”

And don’t be surprised if the Obamas spend quality family time in Hawaii, where the president has family roots.

So what’s hanging in the balance? The decision on the location of the Obama presidential library and worries that it may be headed outside the Windy City — once again making Chicago the nation’s Second City.

New York, particularly Columbia University, is making a major pitch to grab the library, and Sneed reported last month that New York may have the upper hand because of first lady Michelle Obama’s interest in locating it there.

Sneed also hears the Obamas are tired of trying to raise the money; don’t want to go into retirement doing so and have expressed interest in having some of Chicago’s rich muckety-mucks — Tom Pritzker, John Rogers, and Jim Crown, all University of Chicago trustees — help take up the load.

“It all depends on who comes up with the most money to get the project done the way the Obamas want it done — and how hard the Obamas are willing to work to raise money to get it done,” a top political analyst said.

Is this likely the reason the Obamas have been hosting private, intimate, hush-hush Friday cultivation night dinners at the White House with many of the nation’s movers and shakers during the past few months?

Although the library is reportedly not part of the conversation, is this the first couple’s way of setting up for the big ask?

Sneed is told that the dinners have been so intimate, each person has the ability to spend quality time with the president.

“The president has to help raise money for the library — he can’t not do it,” the political analyst said. “A phenomenal amount of money has to be raised in the next two years — and unless some gazillionaire wants to donate $250 million bucks — the Obamas are going to have to work at it.

“The Reagans, both Bush families and the Clintons worked hard at funding their library and museums,” the political analyst said. “That could be the reason for the spate of recent intimate White House dinners.

“You know, Obama picked Chicago because it was easier to get into politics here,” the analyst said. “It wasn’t going to happen in New York way back then.”

“A lot of people will be terribly disappointed if that doesn’t happen,” he added. “Chicago would have defined who he was and the Obama library would have brought hope to the inner city.

“If the library doesn’t come here, it will be a kick in the gut,” he said.

Rahm ’em . . .

Hmmmm: Is a key part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election strategy a reliance on turning out all Chicago voters who pulled Republican ballots in recent years?

• To wit: Sneed is told Rahm’s research indicates those GOP city voters are far more likely to go with him than his opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is viewed as a more liberal, progressive candidate.


Well, I’ll be gobsmacked! The very upstairs Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge, stopped by the London set of “Downton Abbey” on Thursday, where she spent a lot of time downstairs.

• Translation: Kate spent all of her time with the cast that plays the servants, touring the sound stage where they film scenes in their quarters and in the castle’s kitchen.

Sneedlings . . .

Friday’s birthdays: William H. Macy, 65; Common, 43; and Emile Hirsch, 30 . . . Congratulations to Albert Dickens, the heart and soul of the Chicago Sun-Times Sports Department, who marked 45 years with the company on Thursday. Bravo, Albert! You should write a book!