June 28th, 2010
09:09 PM ET
12 years ago

Blagojevich: Oprah Winfrey for Senate

(CNN) - During his search for a successor to fill President Obama's former Senate seat, then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich considered picking talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

In newly- released transcripts of telephone conversations from 2008, introduced into evidence during his trial on Monday, Blagojevich made his case for Winfrey, saying she was "the king maker."

Speaking with his Chief of Staff Richard Harris, Blagojevich continued, "She made Obama."

Harris countered by saying, "So is it that you're tryin' to shed some grace on thee, by picking her?"

Later in the conversation Blagojevich returned to Winfrey, an Obama supporter, as a choice who would have mass appeal, saying, "There's nothing affirmative action about her. She's a huge success, a mega success in her own right."

He added, "Whereas some of these other candidates I put there are just clearly affirmative action. And I'm putting an African American in there... who's not nearly as qualified as some other white candidates you see what I'm saying?"

Elsewhere in the discussion, Blagojevich spoke about the potential to make history with his pick.

"You know, appointing the first African American woman U.S. senator is historic," he said, though not specifically mentioning Winfrey.

Throughout the conversations Blagojevich frequently advocated choosing an African- American successor to Obama.

CNN contacted Winfrey's office but has not yet received a response.

The ousted governor is accused of telling his former chief of staff, John Harris, that he wanted "a good gig" in exchange for an appointment to Obama's seat, either in Washington or with a lucrative private foundation.

Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 on federal corruption charges.

- CNN's Charles Riley contributed to this report

Related: Blagojevich eager for trial to start

Filed under: Illinois • Oprah Winfrey • Popular Posts • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Why would Oprah want to give up all her power to become a senator?

    June 28, 2010 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  2. Discernment

    "SENATOR WINFREY" has a nice ring to it.

    I like Oprah Winfrey as the U.S. Senator from Illinois. 🙂

    June 28, 2010 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. DENNA

    Blagojevich is as nutty as a fruit cake and I am ashamed that I'm from his state. Oh well, he will soon be sharing a cell with the last governor from Illinois, a Republican, who I actually liked better.

    June 28, 2010 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  4. CJ

    The first African-American female US Senator was Carol Moseley Braun who represented Illinois from 1993-1999. Though I wouldn't expect Blogo to know that, or CNN for that matter. (Morons.)

    June 28, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. D.

    And Oprah was going to lead him to the White House? He had a dream and was trying to put key people in place. He didn't know it was to be done legally.

    June 28, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. Gramma K.

    Rod doesn't know his Illinois history. What about Carol Mosley Braun???

    June 28, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  7. Victim of GOP Taliban

    What an idiot. Stop giving this jerk free publicity.

    June 28, 2010 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  8. Blagojevich made his case for Winfrey

    while it is true that justice must take its course, we are doomed to hear Blago's every flush of the toilet

    it will be a long trial

    June 28, 2010 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |

    You got to be kidding. This is worthless information and talk about a fish out of water. After her farce of building her school in Nigeria then filling it with sexual predators as teachers. Gimme a break even if she does fit in OBAMA's scheme of things America will stand for no more ignorance.

    June 28, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. Ridgeway

    Oh, brother. One intellectual pillar picks another. There's no end to stupid in Illinois politics. Does anyone in the entire state care if their elected officials have any sense? How the hell did he ever get elected governor? Wait, just answered my own question. Obama was a senator.

    June 28, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. J

    ""You know, appointing the first African American woman U.S. senator is historic," he said, though not specifically mentioning Winfrey."

    What about Carol Mosely Braun? She was from Illinois and it was only a decade ago. This guy is a know nothing tool.

    June 28, 2010 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. Alexander

    Is he an idiot or just ignorant? His own state of Illinois elected the first African American woman U.S. senator nearly two decades ago. Thats almost as ridiculous as the "historic" Palin vice-presidency candidacy when Geraldine Ferraro blazed that trail two decades earlier.

    June 28, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  13. Jack

    Well, coming from Illinois and the Land of Corruption, is anyone suprised at this revelation? Talk about a payback for her early endorsement of Obama. We have a President with very little political experience and Senator Winfrey would have even less.

    June 28, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  14. Jason

    Give me a break. She is just as dumb as Obama!!! Thats just what we need in America....another moron!!!!

    June 28, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  15. Joe

    She should have run. The only vote she would got, would have been hers.

    June 28, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  16. charles

    "Elsewhere in the discussion, Blagojevich spoke about the potential to make history with his pick.

    "You know, appointing the first African American woman U.S. senator is historic," he said, though not specifically mentioning Winfrey."

    This doesn't make sense, did he forget about Carol Moseley Braun... from ILLINOIS!!!! What an idiot.

    June 28, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  17. Pkm

    Opreh would lose a lot of money if she ran for office she will help more on tv rod i think you will be looking at gray walls for 20 years

    June 28, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  18. dan smith

    Just what we need, another idiot from Chicago in office.

    June 28, 2010 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  19. EmCee

    The joke for today ... and I'm NOT laughing ....

    June 28, 2010 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  20. BenH

    Blago ...Obama. All a joke.

    June 28, 2010 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  21. EmCee

    In fact ... almost a bigger joke than Blogo ....!!!

    June 28, 2010 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  22. Aaron

    Too bad he didn't pick her. She's one of the richest people in the world, so she likely would have spent her tenure trying to help out Americans, rather than accepting bribes left and right like most of that immoral lot in DC.

    June 29, 2010 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  23. Julie

    Hello Oprah:

    You are the best!

    June 29, 2010 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  24. Richard Komi

    I do not think Oprah would have accepted the position but it was good of Blago to think about offering the senate seat to Oprah. On another note, was Blago thinking Oprah will pay more for the seat than others on his list?

    June 29, 2010 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  25. snow

    Hey, she is more qualified for President than nobummer is and could not possibly do worse.

    June 29, 2010 01:34 am at 1:34 am |