December 31st, 2008
12:32 PM ET
9 years ago

Rush says Senate Dems risk following in Bull Connor's footsteps

Rush spoke at Blagojevich’s press conference revealing the Burris pick.

Rush spoke at Blagojevich’s press conference revealing the Burris pick.

(CNN) - A day after warning critics of Roland Burris’s Senate appointment not to “hang or lynch” the former Illinois attorney general, Chicago congressman Bobby Rush said Democrats opposing Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s move to fill the open seat risk finding themselves “in the same position” as segregation-era figures Bull Connor and George Wallace.

"You know, the recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where schoolchildren - where you have officials standing in the doorway of schoolchildren," Rush told CBS Wednesday morning. "You know, I'm talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Ark. I'm talking about George Wallace, Bull Connor and I'm sure that the U.S. Senate don't want to see themselves placed in the same position."

Rush told CNN Tuesday that the lack of African-Americans in the Senate was "a moral outrage" that "should make most fair-minded Americans very, very angry."

Watch: This is a good decision,' says Rush

Congressional Democratic leadership said Tuesday they will oppose seating any candidate appointed by the scandal-scarred Illinois governor to fill the remainder of President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate term.

It is unclear whether the Senate – which can refuse to seat any incoming lawmaker that they believe was not properly elected or appointed – has the legal standing to block the selection of a sitting governor.

Rush said Wednesday that Blagojevich’s opponents “need to take a chill pill."

"We're still a nation of laws and I believe that Roland Burris and Gov. Blagojevich, they're on solid constitutional grounds” in his selection, he said. “I think the U.S. Senate will have to accept him."

It was the second day of racially-charged comments from Rush backing the embattled governor’s decision to appoint Burris, a former Illinois attorney general. If he were seated, Burris would be the only African-American senator to serve in the next Congress.

"I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer," Rush said at the Tuesday press conference where Blagojevich announced the selection of Burris.

President-elect Obama has said he opposes the seating of any candidate selected by Blagojevich to fill his Senate seat.

Filed under: Illinois
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. Chris in MI

    How did RACE come into this?? Blagojevich needs to accept the fact that his sorry butt is going to be impeached. He knew that at least 1 'race baiter' would come out of the woodwork with his selection. And this whole new drama just doesn't seem right. I don't think we know everything. Now the Senate needs to get a backbone and refuse to seat anyone (black, white, red, brown, purple etc) who is selected by this criminal. (no disrespect to Mr. Burris) As for Bobby Rush...get back to work and earn your paycheck.

    December 31, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Camille

    Rep. Rush, please step back and ask yourself if this is really about race. It is clear to all of us U.S. citizens that this is about wanting to avoid the stain of corruption. When the very serious accusation of racism is made, it must be for a legitimate reason. Misusing it is manipulative, and it taints public opinion so as to dull the reaction to true instances of racism that sadly still exist. Please don't take us backwards 30 years.

    December 31, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Lorence,GA



    December 31, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. JB

    Hold on one second. The population percentage of blacks in this country is 13% (which includes mixed race). I got that information from the Congressional Black Caucus website. Based on that information, there should be 13 Senators of black/mixed race. What are the numbers, I honestly do not know? But if you take into consideration the H of R, another 435 representatives, there should be a total of 69.4 black/mixed race congress people. How far off are we? In 2000 there were 10% black/mixed race. I cannot imagine we as a country are that far off.

    December 31, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. craig

    As an african-american, I am appalled how Rush is using the race card to insure that Burris is seated in the Senate. This situation has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO WITH RACE, BUT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE ALLEGED ILLEGAL ACTIONS OF A GOVERNOR. Blago was flatly told that the Senate would reject ANYONE he appointed because his appointment would be tainted. By ANYONE, I understood the Senate as saying that it did not matter who you appointed, whether that person was white, black or green, that person would be rejected. For the life of me I do not understand why Rush do not have the same understanding. His injecting of the race card just tainted this appointment further and he pretty much dared the senate not to seat Burris. I hope the Senate has the guts to call his bluff and reject Burris.

    December 31, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Pete

    Where have I heard similar claims before?

    Oh that's right, the "I don't look like others on the dollar bill" comment.

    December 31, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Pembi

    I agree with rush on this... We are still a nation of laws, the senators issues with the gov have nothing to do with the appointee's abilities. They may want to mask their YES! RACISM (LETS KEEP THE SENATE WHITE) through the gov's inequities. The gov has the right to appoint anyone and there is no clause in the Ill constitution nor the US constitution that say if you do not like the governor then you can reject the appointee. Get real America.

    December 31, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. Larry, Hazleton, Pa

    Thier Governor is going to be around for some time to come and unless they have changed there laws he is within his rights to appoint whoever he wants and to my understanding the US Senate will be legally bound to accept. If they do not want it then call for a special election and vote for some one else – This seems to me to be the choices that are available.

    December 31, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Clinton, NV

    Bobby Rush is going to be pained with the same brush as Blago. This was a stupid move and shows that he has allowed his personal feelings for Obama to cloud his judgement (if he ever had any). Standing on the same stage with Blago is political suicide and to fain racism if Burris isn't categorically accepted is ignorant and the politics of the civil rights movement. It's over, get over it. America still has issues with race but it isn't 1968 . . . elderly (yes elderly) black leaders need to accept the world has changed.

    December 31, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Proud American

    This guy is an idiot, what's sad he might have been a good choice but allowed himself to be used. I really hope he's not this stupid.

    December 31, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. chris

    I am an African American and while I disagree with everything Bobby Rush said I am also a student of the US constitution and it states in Amendment 17section 2 (ratified 1913) "When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct." As you can see Blago is fulfilling his constitutional duties under US and Illinois law. Any court of law would and must uphold this pick. Blago is still the Governor and as such can do this.

    December 31, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. bill for barack

    Bobby Rush needs to reread his history books.
    There are no parallels between Chicago politics and Bull Connor.

    December 31, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. ziggypopp

    So now we're supposed to forget that the governor is an idiot just because there aren't enough blacks in the senate? I don't get this at all. I don't think we should excuse the governors blatent failure to hear his constituency and the countless outcries by politicians of all levels and colors just so we can enforce affirmative action in the senate.
    The only way to correct this imbalance in the senate is for more blacks to run for the seats and be elected by people.
    I'm appalled by this kind of politics. I'm just a white guy that was raised to accept people of all colors and creeds. I don't pretend that racism is dead in this country, however I'm sick and tired of politicians and the media making racism out of nothing.
    Rush should pull his head out of his butt and realize that his comments are doing more perpetuate racism than anyone refusing to acknowledge the governor black pick. Note how Rush was the for the announcement. That wasn't contrived at all.

    December 31, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. jack.florida

    Now that the republicans are gone,the legal system might have a chance again.Blago will be gone soon enough.And the republicans can go back to the drawing board.Because for decades republicans have been selling "less goverment and less spending".They got it backwards.Nice try no cigar.Now the next 30 years will be"The minority era " for the republicans.Its democracy not hypocracy.

    December 31, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. Charles from Atlanta

    Smell fishy...

    December 31, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Patrick

    I feel bad for Burris b/c I don't think he's ever going to get a fair shot at the senate even if he deserves it (although I don't know his qualifications). Why can't the governor get the heads of the Illinois democratic, repubican, and other parties to appoint 2 candidates each and put all their names on the ballot after a month of campaigning and let the people decide who they want to elect? Oh that's right they don't want the democrats to lose the seat...

    December 31, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. IndyVoter

    I would like to see more AAs in the Senate, however, If I were an Illinois citizen, I wouldn't want someone to be chosen to represent me because of their skin color. Sounds like Burris is imminently qualified, however, I do think the Blago shadow does cloud his appointment. How do we know Burris had nothing to do with it. I say don't seat him until we know for sure that he's clear.

    December 31, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. hello

    Hello mr. Rush did not we have African/american president?
    why you make now this race issue?
    race issue is gone with this election so please stop it.

    December 31, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. mmd

    I think the main questions are
    why are the repgs pushing so hard to have Mr. Burris seated? What's in it for them?.

    December 31, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. CJ in FL

    Are all of the politicians from the great state of Illinois this slimey? Nevermind...

    December 31, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Jack in Florida

    Color has nothing to do with this issue and it is sad that Congressman Rush continues to use color as an excuse. It is 2009 and we all need to get past this color barrier. The objection is not against Mr. Burris but the appointment by a dirty governor. IT IS NOT ABOUT RACE AND NEVER HAS BEEN, SO DON'T DIRTY THE WATER EVEN MORE THAN IT ALREADY IS!!!

    December 31, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. George Bush

    Democrats are nothing but redneck bigots!!!!!!

    December 31, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. obama-mama

    I'm black and rush is out of control. I saw him on the news last night and I think he was drunk. Always someone trying to buck the system. Wacko Blago shouldn't have named anyone and he knows it. What a bunch of nit wits.

    December 31, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Matt

    To pin this on racism is such a poor argument. The whole statement that there are so few African American in the senate is an empty argument in itself and screams afermitive action!
    To the point this guy is wrapped up in a huge scandal and that's the reason Dems want him to step down – the longer he stays where he is the more chance he'll do more and more damage to the Democratic party! The GOP is loving this guy right now – i guarentee every republican ad spot in 2010 will feature this guy with Obama! Thanks Rod, you're a great help!

    December 31, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. dittohead with forty names

    This Blago story has been great for covering up all the real stories happening under the surface about other things of much greater importance,like the Mike Connell coverup.

    December 31, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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