Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was indicted on 16 felony charges by the U.S. Attorney's office on April 2. While the indictment was long-expected, the details in the document named additional defendants and included allegations of "pervasive fraud" in the Blagojevich administration.
Standing in front of his Ravenswood Manor home Monday morning, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich apologized for saying he was "blacker than Barack Obama" to Esquire magazine.
"What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid," Blagojevich says. "What I said was a metaphor. Obviously I'm not blacker than President Obama.
"It was a stupid way of saying something. I apologize for being, for saying that and for saying that in such a stupid way. It was a stupid metaphor expressing real frustration."
In a graceful if logically suspect rhetorical pivot, Blagojevich then said his controversial comments were spurred by genuine disagreements with Obama's policies.
"This administration is sending all the money to big corporations and to the wall street crooks that created this economic mess," he said. "And there's not money that's going to the communities that need the money. And bailing out the people instead of bailing out banks which is what I would like to see happen."
Asked if he would be reaching out to the White House to apologize, Blagojevich said "look, I'd be happy to, but I don't have the phone number."
In the Esquire interview, which hits newstands Jan. 19 but began making the rounds early Monday morning, Blago is quoted as saying "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."
After comparing racial identity to menial labor, Blago went on to deride Obama's message of "hope and change":
"What the f***? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter," said the former governor.
And on his own virtuous virility:
"It's such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of sh** and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real."
Gov. Pat Quinn branded his predecessor and former running mate's comments as par for the course.
It's a ridiculous statement," he said, "from a person who’s been making a lot of ridiculous statements over the last several years!"
Across Chicago, many seemed to believe that everything the disgraced former governor has done of late, is part of a larger legal strategy.
"I never sensed racism from Rod Blagojevich," said state Sen. James Meeks. "I never sensed that he does not like black people."
But that said, Meeks said he thought Blagojevich felt a need to speak directly to his potential jury pool, once the comments were received in such a firestorm Monday morning.
"He needs to make sure there are no jurors who think he is a racist," Meeks said. "So it was imperative that he pull back these comments of race. He has to appeal to the people who are on the jury. It will be common people."