Blagojevich: 'Blacker' than Obama comment 'stupid'


Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich

In this April 14, 2009 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at federal court for his arraignment on federal racketeering and fraud charges in Chicago. Blagojevich's getting bounced from the governor's office on the heels of federal corruption charges was chosen Illinois' top news story of 2009 by The Associated Press.

Charles Rex Arbogast/The Associated Press
Published: Monday, January 11, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 11, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.

CHICAGO — Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Monday that it was stupid for him to tell Esquire magazine that he's "blacker than Barack Obama" and that he doesn't believe it anyway.

In an interview on WLS Radio in Chicago, Blagojevich explained he was speaking metaphorically to the reporter whose story appears in the February issue of the magazine. He said his comments were made out of frustration with the way blacks and others who are struggling are treated by government.

"It's a stupid metaphor to say I'm blacker than Barack Obama, that I apologize for," he said. "It's not appropriate for me, a white person, to stand out somehow and claim to be a black person, that's just wrong ... I was expressing frustration that the policies of this new administration still haven't really been focusing on the great deal of inequities we have in our society."

In the article, Blagojevich refers to the president as "this guy," and says Obama was elected based simply on hope.

"What the (expletive)? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter," Blagojevich told the magazine for a story that hits newsstands Jan. 19.

"I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived," Blagojevich said. "I saw it all growing up."

On the radio program, Blagojevich talked more about his childhood and how he saw the riots in Chicago in the late 1960s and the "white flight" from the city. He did not compare his childhood to that of Obama's or any other black person.

Still, "I've always had a strong affinity for the African-American community," he stressed, adding that when he was governor he appointed several more blacks to "important" posts than any of his predecessors.

The White House refused to comment.

The twice-elected Democrat was impeached and removed from office last year after federal prosecutors arrested him on corruption charges that included trying to sell Obama's old U.S. Senate seat. He has pleaded not guilty.

Blagojevich continues to accuse prosecutors of persecuting him for routine political deals.

One of those deals, he said, was the possibility of naming Attorney General Lisa Madigan to Obama's Senate seat in exchange for cooperation on important programs from her powerful father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

He used an infamously coarse word to refer to the attorney general.

"If I can get this, how much do I love the people of Illinois to make that (expletive) senator?'" Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich is appearing on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" this spring and his trial is expected to start later this year.

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