January 11th, 2010
12:10 PM ET
10 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. dave

    Is Blago in jail yet?

    January 11, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Dee

    How rude. Growing up disadvantaged and being "Black" are not a package deal. Let's not compare apples and oranges. People across all ethnic/gender lines are vulnerable to unfortunate circumstances caused by either their own actions or the situation they were born into. It would only be fair for him to TRY and compare himself with Obama by saying that he felt discriminated against or confused because of his ethnicity, his Serbian heritage. No empathy?

    January 11, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. sammie

    Oh will this man never shut up? I have never seen anyone so obviously dishonest feel so little shame. If all he has done or said isn't enough......he just keeps on talking and reporters keep sticking a microphone in front of his pie hole.

    January 11, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. S M R

    This guy reminds me of Sarah Palin, will say or do ANYTHING FOR MONEY. What a joker.

    January 11, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. annie s

    The people of Illinois actually voted for this guy? Whoa.

    January 11, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Debbie

    Absolutely yes, stupid, that about sums you up idiot.

    January 11, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. Marilyn

    You are also an idiot, Blago. Please just go away.

    January 11, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Andrea Courtright

    The fact that CNN still considers Blagojevich, reality tv sell-out, newsworthy is stunning and disappointing. An idiot said something idiotic. Where's the news in that?

    January 11, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. Eric

    he's funny

    January 11, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Todd

    By blacker – blago thought they were talking about souls, not skin.

    January 11, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. NYbywayof Texas

    Ahh! I love the smell of race in America!!! So often we experience a small slice of a different culture's life and immediately we become experts. Blago said it best... "Was the way I said what I said stupid? Absolutely yes, stupid.” Between he and Reid, we need to have an on-going open dialogue about race or we are going to find ourselves on a sitting time bomb. Whether we believe it or not, diverse cultures is what makes America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    January 11, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Liberal wingnut

    I'm sure that's all either has going for them at this point

    January 11, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. Brian

    It seems like the former governor is trying to equate shining shoes, living in a 5 room apartment along with his other experiences as being a black thing. Being black has to do with genetics. Life experiences don't define your ethnicity, no matter what race you are. His comments are very offensive and deserved a swift apology.

    January 11, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. Paul Stevens

    Ex Gov Blago – my mums advice is its better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt

    January 11, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Dr. C.

    Well, students of psychology, what you are likely reading here and in other articles about Blagojevich, are good examples of classic denial and quite possibly psychopathological projection. I might add that listening to Blagojevich also provides an example of poor public speaking. Please stop this tendency to ask questions and answer them ad nauseam.

    January 11, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. good-bye global warming

    Blago is the perfect example of a media double standard. If you're a Republican and say something remotely racist, the media wants your head on a platter. If you're a democrat and say something racist and stupid, you get to be on a reality show.

    January 11, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  17. David

    Obviously, Blagoevich was colorblind if he said that he was "blacker than Barack Obama." lol

    January 11, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |

    I don't know about being "blacker than Barack Obama," but this guy is nuttier than an outhouse rat.

    January 11, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Dean

    Everytime this guy opens his bleeping mouth something stupid falls out. I do think his hair has sucked his brain out.

    January 11, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Ted from Calif.

    Just another corrupt politician trying to rewrite history!

    January 11, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    That's not really the question. The question is are all of these politicians making comment on race, as American, as those they like to take racial jabs at. I would love to see a survey that asked what do you consider yourself, Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, Other, include in they survey American, because I consider myself American before anything else.

    January 11, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  22. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    isn't this guy irrelevant yet?

    January 11, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. Derrick

    This guy is better than any comic currently performing

    January 11, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  24. Great American

    The only place racism still exists with no shame, is the democratic party! and the black caucus still sucks up to them. SHAME ON YOU!

    January 11, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. Kevin

    If you are asked a question and these lead to you staying stupid things the only thing it shows is you are stupid. Associating (or stereotyping poverty) with being black is what is the stupidest part of the comments. While a correlation exists it does not reflect why many African Americans are in poverty and making that connection is what makes him blacker is both illogical and idiotic. Glad to see he is out of office.

    January 11, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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