January 11th, 2010
12:10 PM ET
5 years ago

Ex-governor Blagojevich: 'I'm blacker than Barack Obama'

Blagojevich appears on 'Celebrity Apprentice' in March.
Blagojevich appears on 'Celebrity Apprentice' in March.

(CNN) - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he’s “blacker than Barack Obama,” and tells Esquire magazine that the “strength of the truth in America” will one day vindicate him.

The governor, who was impeached after being accused of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama, says most of the people in politics are “full of s*** and phonies, but I was real.”

Blagojevich tells the magazine that Obama was “catapulted in on hope can change, what we hope the guy is...

“What the f***? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter. 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. I saw it all growing up," he says.

(Updated after the jump with Blagojevich apology)

Blagojevich last year pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges. A federal grand jury in April indicted him on 16 felony counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators. His trial is slated for later this year.

The embattled ex-governor has maintained his innocence, insisting that “when the full story’s heard …. it’ll correct itself.”

“What helps me get up every morning is, I'm fighting the fight for something much larger than me," Blagojevich says in the interview. "I'm fighting for what is at the basis of what our country is supposed to be, a place where you're presumed innocent, where if in fact you did something wrong, the system plays out in such a way where the truth comes out, not people being forced to lie and being squeezed to lie. If you love your country as I do, this is a fight worth fighting."

Blagojevich appears on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” in March. His wife, Patti, was on the network’s "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" this past summer, lasting 23 days in the Costa Rican jungle before being voted off.

Update 10:30 am: Blagojevich apologized Monday for what he called “stupid comments” made in the Esquire article.

“What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid,” he told reporters outside his home.

“I was speaking metaphorically. Obviously I’m not blacker than President Obama,” he said.

The governor took responsibility for his words, but said he was expressing “real frustration” that nothing has changed under the Obama administration.

“Am I frustrated? Yes. Was I expressing frustration? Yes. Was that frustration real? Yes. Is it still real? Yes. Was the way I said what I said stupid? Absolutely yes, stupid,” Blagojevich said.


Filed under: Popular Posts • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Mike in NYC

    I welcome this open, frank and long-overdue discussion of race in America.

    Now, I wasn't planning on bringing up my great-great-great-great grandpappy Remus, but ...

    January 11, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Blagojevich

    Oh please! Why is it that when some non-black politician gets caught with "his hand in the cookie jar" all of a sudden he transforms into a black person? What an insult! Blagojevich, being a corrupt, criminal politician does not make you black. Growing up in a slum does not make you black. Living around lower-class black people does not make you black. Do you think that being black is synonymous with being a low-life, a down and out or an oppressed and powerless person?

    I suspect that Blagojevich has realized that many black people in America have become the cheerleaders for every loser, criminal or thug that smiles at them (smh) think–RKelly–OJ–Clinton and his affairs and other various random thugs who run into trouble with the law etc.. We have ourselves to blame for this situation. Wake up!

    January 11, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. John

    Gee, he looks kinda white to me, ha, ha..

    January 11, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Stupid is what stupid say (Rod Blagojevich). What person in their right mine would want to say something like this. It is not a black thing to be charge with 16 felony counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators. Because you grew up in a black community and shined shoes lived in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. What makes Rod Blagojevich BLACK???!!!

    January 11, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Beverly

    OOps I was so upset I put Blagovich in the spot where my name was suppose to be. LOL Here is my resubmission.

    Oh please! Why is it that when some non-black politician gets caught with "his hand in the cookie jar" all of a sudden he transforms into a black person? What an insult! Blagojevich, being a corrupt, criminal politician does not make you black. Growing up in a slum does not make you black. Living around lower-class black people does not make you black. Do you think that being black is synonymous with being a low-life, a down and out or an oppressed and powerless person?

    I suspect that Blagojevich has realized that many black people in America have become the cheerleaders for every loser, criminal or thug that smiles at them (smh) think–RKelly–OJ–Clinton and his affairs and other various random thugs who run into trouble with the law etc.. We have ourselves to blame for this situation. Wake up

    January 11, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Ken from VA

    So I suppose the new test for Americans regarding your Afro-American/Negro/Black heritage is you grew up in a small house, shined shoes, and owned a business in a black neighborhood. He is a bonified idiot. Wonder how many applications has he ever completed listing himself as Black?

    January 11, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. Dennis

    For once, I agree with Blago. Although I am caucasion I feel I am "Blacker" than Obama. I grew up in a neighborhood that was about 50/50. I bet I had more black friends growing up than Obama. I also bet my childhood experience was more "black" than Obama's in Hawaii.

    January 11, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. Just Me

    Should'nt this man be in a courthouse somewhere in Illinois defending corruption charges rather than making stupid deamining comments? I don't understand how people like him and the likes of Tom Delay can be charged with crimes, but somehow can't find the door to the courthouse. Only in America. If he was in China, he would have already been convited and shot.

    January 11, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. Torch

    While Blago is an idiot, he actually has a point. BO is hardly black, and the other irony is BO is actually more African American than the average black guy. His father was actually an African.

    Either way, this is stupid, and it matters little.

    January 11, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. Annie M

    Anyone who ever voted for this clown should be ashamed

    January 11, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. Pat in IL

    This man is not only a criminal and liar, but he is the ultimate embarassment to our state and honest statesmen everywhere. Some dishonest politicans at least seem to have an engaging personality and can speak without 4-letter words, etc., but Blago's whole demeanor is just plain disgusting.

    January 11, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. John J, IN

    You are also a whole lot dumber.

    January 11, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Seriously? This guy is like a walking cartoon character.

    January 11, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  14. T.G.

    "Blacker than Barack Obama"? LOL!!!!! I needed a good laugh today.

    January 11, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. Sarah

    Does he mean "black-hearted?" Because I will buy that.
    If the man wants to run for something, I feel he is a shoe-in for the Donald Trump hairstyle award.

    January 11, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Seriously?

    What does shining shoes have to do with being black? Please go away guy.

    January 11, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. aos

    Blago is a fool. When he was the governor of our state, he only had Illinois to exhibit his buffoonery. Now, he has a national stage. God help us all. I hope he gets convicted soon.

    January 11, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. Gary

    You've got to be kidding me! This joker is nuts! The sooner he's in Joliet Prison making license plates, the better!

    January 11, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. faithful democrat/jacksonville

    There's a big difference between born black (which his father is) and acting and wanting to be black. There are alot of people in this world who try to act black, talk black, dress black, etc because they either have black friends and/or hang out with them. It's nothing wrong with wanting to have some black in you but NEVER say you're more black than President Obama because you're not. And because you were raised in the same community or neighborhood as blacks, doesn't meant you're more black than he is. Com on Man.....PLEASE DO NOT GET IT TWISTED. Black is Black and everything else is NOT...just wants to be :). I'm not hating on you because Black is beautiful and proud. I am very proud to be the Black woman/lady I am. I would not have it any other way.

    January 11, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Avi Shlomo

    Blago is just another stupid white man who can't talk!!

    January 11, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. JOHNSON oklahoma

    Is this even news worthly this guy is a loser any whay you look at it

    January 11, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. Ryan

    Apparently if you shine shoes, and live in a 5 room apartment, you are black now? I didn't realize white people couldn't live like this.

    As someone from Illinois, I officially apologize for this...person.

    January 11, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Joe Fattal

    Obama is not black unless he wants to be black. To be black is to be black, no white or any color in between.

    January 11, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. New Age Independent

    Yet another Democrat stepping on the backs of the black community for his own personal gain. This guy is a complete loser!

    January 11, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. Allie

    So Blago's definition of being black is shining shoes, living in a 5 room apartment (which is bigger than my apartment, I might add) and owning a business in a black neighborhood? Wow, even if this guy does end up being innocent, he's still completely out of touch.

    January 11, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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