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. Zee

    what a loser!

    January 11, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Ramses

    Blagojovich is right. Black, white, yellow or blue, rich or poor who cares? What one can deliver to the good of people is all that matters. A shoe shine boy now 85 in Los angeles, a black barber now 95 still working in LA, a happy man who served people & feels great about it matters. These are God's people. Serve the people.

    January 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  3. Kathryn

    He's blacker than Obama? What a turn of phrase! This guy is an idiot.
    He's equating being poor with being Black. This man has to go away! Why does he stay in the limelight? Now, I've been told, he will be on Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump. WHY? WHY? WHY?
    Will Sarah Palin be next?
    I just don't understand why these people keep showing up on TV....their every word shared with the world. Are there no interesting, intelligent people out there to interview?

    January 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. SamofCarolina

    you are not going to write he said he shined shoes? seriously CNN

    January 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. SamofCarolina

    oh you did..whoops

    January 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. Brady

    Why is this man still speaking?

    January 11, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. Tim Manning

    So basically what he is saying is that being poor is what makes you Black in America? Any black person that comes from a middle class family is "less black" than a poor white person?

    This guy is remarkable.

    January 11, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. Leslie, MD

    So being black means you shine shoes? What next, if you can't find a cab to take you where you have to go, you are black? What a moron. This statement is way more racist than what Reid said.

    Also, to all the rabid right wing Republicans who suddenly what to defend black people against Reid, I say shut up. As a black person, I'm more offended by the African chief posters and clown faces of the teabaggers, than any thing Reid said.

    Once again the GOPers are pretending they are champions of the people, when they are just selfish, greedy big business supporters.

    Give me a break.

    January 11, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. Ava

    Uh, Mr B, shining shoes and living poor in a black community doesn't make one black...sorry..

    January 11, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Gloria

    This man is nuts!!

    January 11, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Leslie

    WOW! Illinois is facing a 50% raise in taxes right now. Sure am glad that we could accomidate your travle from Chicago to Sprinfeild becasue you could not live in the state capitol as the Governor????? But, you are an honest man, and a black man now, REALLY??? You are unbelievable! Who says that crap?

    January 11, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. Jazzy79

    Um..Yikes? So thats what it takes to be black?...Oh, nevermind. *lol*

    January 11, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Justice

    Didn't Mr. Blagojevich stand up against the Bank Of America for the people of Illinois before his unpleasant downfall?? Hmmmm..

    January 11, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Ryan

    From a cultural perspective, I hate to say, he's probably correct.

    Growing up in Kansas raised by 2 white grandparents in an almost all white town, then heading off to Yale, and only after law school actually moving to any sort of culturally black region...

    January 11, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Amazed

    I think i am at a loss for words...

    The impeached,fame-whoring politician is talking about other politicians being full of feces?

    January 11, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Papasan

    Open mouth, insert foot...

    January 11, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. David De Vore

    And it wants the country and people listening to take him SERIOUS!!!!!

    January 11, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    OMG. Some people need to know when to shut their trap.

    January 11, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. anon

    More power to this guy for having enough balls to say he's blacker than Obama. I totally respect this guy more after reading this, finally, someone is outspoken and speaks waht they think

    January 11, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. racist

    No dude, you're white.

    January 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |

    I really have a problem with this person attempting to define "Blackness" as a part of his culture. Sorry, it much bigger than your living your daytime life among us and then sleeping your life at nighttime in your 5 room home.

    January 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. Questioner5000

    As if the African American community didn't have enough problems of its own to deal with, now Rod claims to be black .....

    January 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Thats the most stupid thing ive ever heard almost .But really how does people like this guy get elected our system must be broke some where's.

    January 11, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. HD

    Good LORD...when will this man learn to shut his mouth? Probably never, as long as he's getting the attention he so pathetically craves.

    January 11, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. Lady Cross

    His comments are an insult to all Black people, especially the President. Growing up in a Black community doesn't make you any Blacker than I would be Italian living in an Italian community. Why is he attacking Obama? He's the crook accused of trying to gain from selling Obama's senate seat! He really needs to go somewhere and be quiet. He's an idiot and everytime he opens his mouth, he proves it. He says he loves his country yet he insults the President. He also ran Illinois into the ground with his corruption. We are billions of dollars in debt because of his "pay to play" politics. I hope he rots in jail.

    January 11, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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