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. Damian

    As an African-American I had to laugh at this one. Not offended at all by the comment because I understand its context. However being black is not to be equated to having a tough upbringing. It can however be attributed to genetics.

    January 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Scott, Tucson

    Obama was just the right shade of Black for the liberals to vote for.

    January 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Incredulous

    Maybe he can get a job as chairman of the RNC, I hear they are looking for someone to replace Michael Steele.

    January 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Bob in Pa

    I didn't know shoe shining was a requirement for membership in the black community. Goes to show my old man was right, you really do learn something new everyday.

    January 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. Robert

    So Mr.Blagoejich:
    Let me get this right,my grandfather had a second hand store back in the day in a white neighborhood.One of my favorite songs as a kid was,"April In Portugal",I liked to watch "Howdy Dowdy"I also like to watch the "Lone Ranger",according to your premise that makes me "WHITE":)

    January 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  6. Lang

    He lived in a 5 room appartment? His dad OWNED the laundrymat, didn't just work for someone else? Cry me a river.

    January 11, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. sifto77

    at least Blago is honest–never again will I feel sorry for blacks when they point the finger of racism.....they made their own bed supporting closet racists like Reid and Biden–(even Bill Clinton).......BTW–what does Reid think of Michelle Obama with her "very dark" skin? Appropriate for a first lady?

    January 11, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. david

    I think the former governor is confused. Crime is not rated on a sliding scale where his level did not reach the true standard of a crime in illinois. He might be better off claiming insanity, since a jury of his peers may already be thinking along those lines anyway.

    January 11, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Julia in Eugene, OR

    As with a certain former governor of our northernmost state, if the media would stop giving this person attention, he would go away.

    January 11, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Are you kidding me???

    I'm telling you, the more this guy talks, the more he sounds like the Sarah Palin of the democratic party. What a baffoon!

    January 11, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. saymypiece

    This crook is the perfect definition of a pathological liar.

    January 11, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  12. disgusted

    A situation does not make you black. growing up around a certain race does not make you that race

    January 11, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. Mike in Youngstown

    This guy and Jim Traficant should be on TV together.

    January 11, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. Remy

    You are an idiot!!! Being black has nothing to do with what neighborhood you grew up in or if you shined shoes you schmuck. That's the freaking problem now a days. That's why you are in the predicament you are in now. You will never be blacker than any black or half black man you phony.

    January 11, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. Crazy Cat Lady

    This guy makes a used car salesman look good.

    January 11, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Michael


    He REALLY wants to stay in the headlines.

    January 11, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. Brett from Oriskany,VA

    Lets heal America with bipartisan ticket for 2012. Forget Obama, Huckabee,Clinton, Cheney and the rest. Unite behind this ticket:
    Palin – Blagojevich 2012!
    What a perfect pair to exemplify the moral decline of American politics.

    January 11, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. mjm

    You have got to love these Democrats.

    As far as Reid goes, you can be a racist and get away with comments like that as long as they need your vote. It's says so in the Black Caucus statement. If you have a history of voting for bills that they THINK will help the black community, you can make stupid racist statements all day long.

    Just for the record, over 80% of the Republicans voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act. Only 64% of Democrats voted for it. Senator Byrd led the 14 hour filibuster against the bill. Of course, he has turned over a new leaf once they realized they could get the black vote….now they are all about civil rights.

    January 11, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. therealmarie

    The only thing sillier than Blogo's comments are the script writers at CNN reading and 'so called news' reporting it.

    January 11, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. Paul

    So, to Blagojevich being black equals shining shoes and growing up poor?

    The man just keeps digging that hole deeper and deeper. He'll be in China soon.

    January 11, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. TLMN

    Who the heck paid for ANOTHER 15 minutes of fame for this freak show?

    January 11, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  22. vinniekyle

    Hey blago........ my caucasion brother...you are stuck on stupid man...the more you do...the more of an idiot is seen...period dot com..go google yuh fool

    January 11, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  23. Flyer69

    I am so sorry; I have to apologize for this Idiot. I am truly ashamed that he comes from Illinois. There are so many good things in Illinois and to focus on this guy just absolutely pains me. Oh by the way please stop giving him all this attention, it just emboldens him and gives him exactly what he wants, money, notoriety and a forum.

    January 11, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. Mark

    So, are Dems trying for biggest racist explosion this week? Reid, Clinton, Blago. C'mon Biden, join the fun.

    January 11, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. Greg Hill

    Blagojevich/Palin 2012

    January 11, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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