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. GOPer

    Is there any way we can speed up his trial and get him out of the spotlight and behind bars?

    January 11, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Stream Of Consciousness

    Man this guy is just unbelievable.

    January 11, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Adam

    Got to love Chicago and it's politicians. A constant stream of delusional crooks.

    January 11, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Adam from Ohio

    Funny–he is apologizing much more for these comments than for, you know, trying to sell the Senate seat!

    January 11, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  5. Jazz

    It does bring up a good point. Obama was raised by middle class white people, and was afforded educational opportunities that most African-Americans never have the opportunity to receive. Other than the color of his skin, what makes Obama 'black'. I always thought the idea of being 'black' had more to do with oppression, low socio-economic status, etc. It's too bad that the issue that matters least, skin color, trumps more important issues that effect the people grow up, like environmental and economic issues.

    January 11, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. Mary Pat

    What stupidity is he saying? I'm African-American and grew up in a house, didn't shine shoes, and went to an Ivy league college. Does he equate being Black with being poor and in the ghetto?
    At the rate America is going everyone will be poor. So then we'll all be Black in his view?

    January 11, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Joshua Ludd

    in other words... black = poor.

    Way to go, scumbag... you just added racist to your long list of accomplishments, none of them good.

    January 11, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. j

    The man's an idiot. He doesn't deserve his 15 minutes + of fame.

    January 11, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Jasmine in Germany

    Obviously, the man has lost his mind.

    January 11, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Playtoe

    "I shined shoes"...whoa, hilarious!

    January 11, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. esautv

    Obama is playing much more golf than Bush did in office. Let them eat cake!?!

    January 11, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Republicans are the American Taliban

    He needs to "complete the circle" as Rush Limbaugh says and just become a Republican.

    January 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. truthbetold

    LOL, this man is an idiot. I am black and was born in Chicago, and I didn't have any of the same experiences as this man, so does that make him more black than me? I don't get it; who told him that he had his finger on the pulse of Black America? Middle-aged white men seem to think they know black people because they were forced to rub shoulders with them at some point, or they like jazz,or because they have participated in interracial dating. This is what happens when people get a little too familiar with someone else's race. Offended? A bit. A little more amused because who in the hell tries to qualify as something else? I am disappointed that he thinks he can sum up Black Americans in such simplified and stereotypical terms. I have never shined a shoe in my life. And his hair is a disgrace. Yuck!

    January 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. Tim

    How did this guy make it to governor? INCONCEIVABLE!

    January 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. ebonitia

    The concepts of black and white are not races. They are states of mind. Both are mental illness. One cannot exist without the other in much the same way that up cannot exist without down. Evil is the categorical belief that one must be good and the other bad. Each simply "is." You choose the spin. In truth, there is only one race indigenous to the planet Earth - the human race.

    The majority of us accept the belief that the truth is the light. The "strength of the truth in America," and elsewhere, will vindicate those who speak truth to power. Those who have a problem with truth on this side of the veil will also have a problem with the light on the other side of the veil. Have Hope. Fire purifies.

    January 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Mark Phillip

    This might be the worst apology in history.

    Of course it was metaphorical. No one is looking at the hue in Blagojevich's skin and thinking wow, he's darker than Barack.

    It was offensive _because_ it was metaphorical.

    January 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Kraig Rasool

    It Seems that we should now be called United States of criticize then
    apologize.... There are so many people in power positions now just
    blurting out whatever comes to mind...then after a few days out with
    the apologies. It is paramount that you should always think before
    speaking whether with friends or foe...There was a time when everything bad that was said could be blamed on a drunken stupor...
    however these folkds are in their right state of mind (or think they are).
    Race-play seems to be the game of choice and it has many players,
    sometimes I think its not 2010 but 1810. There should and always be
    a zero-tolerance statue when it comes to people in power because there are many to follow and it will be repeated over and over until a
    hard-liner appears with more than just words to return. Wake up people its coming from all ends.

    January 11, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. TLO

    Why is it black to shine shoes?

    January 11, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. John

    take Reid with you,,,,,,Rod....

    January 11, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Beth, N. Texas

    "Nothing has changed" under Obama's administration? Then why are the Republicans like Cheny, Gingrich, Guiliani so upset? Give me a break.

    One of the biggest changes I see–that conservates HATE–is that President Obama is working hard to bring back American principles of law and respect for the Constitution, which Bush and Cheney stomped on. Doing away with torture, giving suspects basic rights, closing Gitmo (an illegal facility–it's like giving the big "finger" to the world), and working to restore relationships with other countries–these are big changes Pres. Obama has brought and ones that I appreciate. I

    January 11, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. Padraig

    All I can say is what in the world is with this guy? He is a person with serious issues.

    January 11, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. Antonio

    Way to stay classy Rod!

    January 11, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Ron Howerton

    Further proof Blagojevich didn't belong as governor.

    January 11, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Mary

    I'm confused about the state of journalism. Why Why Why do people like Blagojevich and Cheney keep getting massive press coverage when they're not an elected official or anyone serving the public's needs? What makes their truly rogue (not beauty pageant rogue) lives worthy of coverage? What happened to ethics that I learned as a journalism student?

    January 11, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. k

    Sometimes, peole say things that are so stupid that nothing else need be said. Just let them dangle from their own rope....this is one of those times.

    January 11, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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