Blago Blitz Blazes on Despite Trial

Gov. Blagojevich tells MSNBC's Maddow: "We ... tried to think outside the box."

Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich returned to national television on Tuesday with a jam-packed schedule of appearances.

An interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow broadcast Tuesday night was one stop among several appearances, including "The Early Show" on CBS, "Fox & Friends", AP TV, Fox Business Network, In Session/TruTV, FOX's Glenn Beck, CNN's Campbell Brown, FOX's Greta Van Susteren, and CNN's DL Hughley.

In his conversation with Maddow, Blagojevich reiterated his claim that the tapes that were played for the Illinois state senate are being taken out of context and that statements where he seemed to be shaking down potential replacements for President Obama's vacated U.S. senate seat was just him "thinking outside the box."

[MSNBC:  Rachel Maddow One-On-One With Rod Blagojevich (Transcript)]

"We looked and tried to think outside the box, like Oprah Winfrey, for example," Blagojevich said.  "Some ideas were good. Some were stupid. Some you can't do. Just natural discussions when you're trying to get a result that ultimately leads to a the place that's right for people."

The embattled governor is still asking for the tapes to be played in their entirety, claiming that the context will exonerate him.

"I consider myself the anti-Nixon," Blagojevich told Maddow. "Remember, during Watergate, Richard Nixon fought every step of the way to keep his tapes from being heard?  And the, finally he ran out of roadblocks. ... I want just the opposite. I want them all heard, now, right away , so the whole story can be heard."

During his 17th interview in 48 hours, Blagojevich also denied that he tried to extort the Tribune Co. but said he did want an end to the Chicago Tribune's negative editorials.

Federal prosecutors have claimed their wiretaps of the governor's home and office caught him suggesting Tribune editorial writers should be fired if the Tribune Co. wanted state assistance to sell Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.

Blagojevich told Maddow that the Tribune was getting the benefit of the state trying to help the Cubs and that it would be nice "if they laid off on an issue like that."

His appearances Tuesday meant the continuation of his boycott of his own impeachment trial in Springfield, Ill. 

"I'd like my story to be told," Blagojevich told CBS's "The Early Show" on Tuesday. 

"That's why I'm urging the Senate to have every one of those tapes heard," he later said, adding that he realizes he'll probably soon be out of a job, but said he won't resign because he didn't do anything wrong and doesn't want to send the wrong message to his children.

The Sun-Times shared the perspective of several attorneys who say that Blago's absence from the trial may be a bad move for him relative to his upcoming criminal trial.

His media blitz began Monday, with a full day of interviews concluding with a live appearance with CNN's Larry King.

Speaking with King, the governor complimented his now departed lead defense attorney, Edward Genson, as the "F. Lee Bailey of our time" but said he could not stay silent about the criminal corruption charges he faces, as Genson may have wanted.

On "Larry King Live," Blago was shown clips of "Saturday Night Live" impersonations of him and jokes on late-night talk shows, Blagojevich grinned and told King it was the first time he'd seen the clips.

He called them "funny" and said it was "nothing personal."
The governor also took questions from callers, including a Chicago woman who pressed the governor on his oft-mentioned point that his work is the will of the people. 

"Wouldn't you agree that the senators and congressman of Illinois do represent the will of the people?" the caller asked.

"Not nearly like the way the Executive Branch does," Blagojevich responded.  "I'm the only one in that office --in that process -- with the exception of the other constitutional officers, that were elected by all the people of this state.  These lawmakers are elected in smaller districts, most of them are completely unknown to their constituents.  Ask your typical viewer if they know who their state representative or state senators are; they hardly know who their congressman are." 

As with earlier interviews, the two-term Democrat refused to discuss the criminal allegations he faces.  Blagojevich would say only that the quotes in the criminal complaint were taken out of context.

Pressed on what context would justify using Obama's Senate seat to land a job for himself, Blagojevich said he didn't try to make a

"If you do an exchange of one for the other, that's wrong," he told ABC's "Nightline." "But if you have discussions about the
future and down the road and what you might want to do once you're no longer governor in a few years, what's wrong with that?"

Earlier Monday, Blagojevich told the women of "The View" that he thought Oprah Winfrey would have been a good person to fill the U.S. Senate spot left open by President Barack Obama.

"My thought was, an African American woman who, probably by herself, has more influence than 100 senators, she clearly could use her bully pulpit to do good things for people," Blagojevich told the hosts on "The View."

Winfrey responded to the governor's comments on Gayle King's Sirius satellite radio program shortly thereafter.

"I'm pretty amused by the whole thing," an ABC News blog quoted her as saying. "If I had been watching," she added, "as I (normally) watch, from the treadmill, I would have fallen off the treadmill."

Responding to news reports, Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that despite what Gov. Blagojevich told the morning shows, Oprah Winfrey was never on any list he saw to fill Obama's senate seat.

"When I talked to him, we went through a list of about 20 names and talked about who might be a good person and who might not," Durbin said. "Oprah was not on the list ... not on my list."

On "The View," Barbara Walters worked to get an answer from Blagojevich that other interviewers have been unable to get. She repeatedly asked about reports that he was captured on audio tape talking about trying to sell former Sen. Barack Obama's senate seat.

"Here's your chance. No lawyers," ABC's Walters said, urging the governor to answer. "Did you say those things? Please answer that part. Otherwise, why are you wasting time?"

The governor, who's been called "cuckoo" by Chicago's mayor and has been deserted by his famous defense attorney, repeated again, "I have done nothing illegal."

Pushed further, he said, "Under no circumstances was I trying to sell a senate seat."

He reiterated that his "private conversations" were taken out of context, and that everything he's done has been for the people of Illinois.  

"You have to understand that these are private conversations that took place over long periods of time," Blagojevich said.

"I realize that, even though you have this opportunity and you're going to be on other television shows, you're not going to answer that question," Walters said as she moved on, asking the governor why he would have such conversations when he knew he was being watched by federal agents.

"You figure that your home is a sanctified place and you're allowed to have private conversations," he said.

In the show's next segment, the governor sat with The View's other hosts -- who actually were in New York.  Joy Behar urged Blagojevich to do his Nixon imitation.  At first he looked puzzled, but a smile crossed his face as Behar raised her hands over her head, her fingers in the V formation, and said, in the words of Richard Nixon, "I'm not a crook."

The governor declined, but smiled as Behar reached over to ruffle the his famous head of thick, black hair.

Blago kicked off his New York chat fest on "Good Morning America."  (Read full transcript of interview)  It was there that he said for the first time that he had been considering naming Oprah to fill Obama's vacated senate seat.

"There's a whole series of people that we talked about ..." Blagojevich said while speaking with Diane Sawyer Monday morning. Sawyer pushed him to name who he might have been thinking of for the open Illinois senate seat.

"Who have you heard," the governor asked.

"Did you call Oprah?" Sawyer replied.

"No, the idea came to me from a friend," he said, adding that he thought she'd make a good senator.

Defending his wife against media references to Lady Macbeth, he told Sawyer, "My wife is a loving person," and added that this episode in his political career has been difficult for his family.

Walters, too, asked about Patti Blagojevich, saying that it was her understanding that the governor's wife would also be appearing on The View Monday morning. 

"She's a big fan of your show," the governor told Walters, adding that the family is bracing for a life-changing week as the Illinois Senate rules on impeachment --  "The fix is in," he told both Sawyer and Walters -- and that his wife opted to stay home with their children.

Blagojevich got a jump on his Monday media blitz over the weekend with a taped interview with NBC's Amy Robach recorded in Chicago for the Today Show.  The interview aired Monday morning.

In that conversation, the embattled Illinois governor said he is proud of the work he has done for Illinois.  When asked about the possibility of going to prison, Blagojevich said he thought about Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

"I had a whole bunch of thoughts," Gov. Blagojevich said. "Of course, my children, my wife, and then I thought about Mandela, Gandhi, Dr. King, and tried to put some perspective in all of this.  And that's what I'm doing now."

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