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. Kenneth

    Rod, if you were a minority you would be in jail ... PERIOD! Get over yourself and don't EVEN think minorities will support ANYTHING that you stand for ... you self serving egotistical MORON!

    January 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. LB

    What a stupid thing to say! You think, Blago, that spending time around Black people, or growing up in a five-room apartment (not that small btw) makes you something like a Black person? Shined Shoes?!?! Its a racist notion to think these things make you Black. You disgust me. I always thought the only requirement to be truly Black was to...ahem...truly be Black!! Unbelievable. The ignorance abounds.

    January 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    Please, would the media and everyone else get this straight.


    January 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. clint

    Sad, sad, sad.

    January 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Mark

    Blogo is an embarrasment to Illinois

    January 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. Dana Dixon

    Why do we give this guy a voice?? The people of Illinois spoke. He's a nobody. Treat him that way!

    And how nasty and racist is the comment "I'm blacker than someone because I grew up shining shoes." OMG.

    January 11, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Roni

    BLAGO: You are an idiot. Shining shoes and owning a business in an an African American neighborhood does not make you black just as marrying a white woman and living in a mansion does not make you white (ask Tiger Woods or OJ Simpson). We are what we are by genetics and although we can choose to deceive ourselves by identifying with a different race, we cannot change what we are. Obama is part African and part (white) American by birth. He chose to live as an African American, to marry and African American woman and raise his African American children as what they are - African American. He is blacker than you can ever imagine being. You are a white man who chooses to live like a white man and that is what you will always be. If this country is ever to get beyond its race issues, people like you MUST STOP TALKING!!!

    January 11, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Braniff

    Blagojevich is a joke! The way he associates himself with African-Americans, the way he gets himself on "reality" shows, the way he shamelessly promotes himself and denies his role in Illinois–I see no way he could be vindicated. He could be, I guess, but the way he's acting, it won't be in any of our lifetimes.

    January 11, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. vmarsha

    Ok. So let me get this straight, shining shoes and being poor is what makes you black!! Give me a break Blago.

    January 11, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. TJ516

    OMG!! this guy just doesn't know how to shut up. I hope he doesn't believe that his nonsense will save him. He is a criminal. Done and dusted. He and his wife are doing reality shows because no one will ire them in real jobs. he needs to open a hot dog stand s o he chew the ears off of unsuspecting lunch goers.

    January 11, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. john

    He's been using too much hair spray, its affected his brain severely....what an IDIOT!

    January 11, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. DeanScream

    He doesn't appear to be black...

    January 11, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Reality bites

    What the "H" does "I'm blacker than Obama" means? Seriously, who gives a rat's behind what Blago thinks? He's a crooked, impeached Gov and the audacity to think he can go up against the President of the US on any issue is ridiculous!

    January 11, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Elliott

    What a complete idiot.

    January 11, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. omg

    what a NUT JOB!!!!

    January 11, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Anand

    This guy is a joke.

    January 11, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  17. Tom

    Can you imagine a ticket with this idiot and Palen?

    January 11, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Rob

    What a buffoon. Can't believe the people of Illinois not only elected him, but RE-elected him.

    January 11, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. marcus (seattle)

    CNN is becoming my favorite comedy web site... constantly quoting palin, cheney and now, blagojevich, as if the content of their comments was even remotely close to being legitimate political discourse.. why don't you people include political commentary by lewis black and rosie o'donnell...

    January 11, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. Peggy

    Honestly, this man should get together with Sarah Palin, and may they live happily ever after in their combined Fantasyland!!!!!!

    January 11, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. STL

    Blago & Palin should get married.

    January 11, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. Bob Dobbs

    And I'm taller than a 5th grader...what's your point? Somebody get this cartoon character out of the news already.

    January 11, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. Kim K.

    If a particular standard of living (shining shoes and living in a five room apartment) defines one's "blackness," neither me nor my friends, all us black, would qualify since we grew up in middle class families, in houses owned by our parents who were college professors, lawyers, doctors, teachers and professionals. This foolishness brings to mind one of my mother's favorite sayings, "That's why he's where he is (publicly disgraced) and you're where you are ( a respected lawyer at one of the nation's largest law firms).

    January 11, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  24. Xavier Baudet

    This guy has totally lost it. He thinks a five-room apartment is for poor people. But it's pure luxury for some of the folks he claims to represent. His father had a little laundromat in a black community not far away...Many people in the black neighborhoods don't even know their fathers! Time for this guy to spend some time in a ONE room apartment...

    January 11, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. Jane in DC

    Are you kidding me??

    January 11, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
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