Obama: I Am ‘Appalled And Disappointed’ By Illinois Scandal, Blagojevich Needs To Resign

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"Obama: I Am ‘Appalled And Disappointed’ By Illinois Scandal, Blagojevich Needs To Resign"

Since federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) earlier this week, many conservatives have been trying to tie him to Barack Obama, even though the President-elect has said that he has had “no contact with the governor or his office.” Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz has even criticized Obama for not acting outraged enough, saying that he has “limited himself to such bromides as ‘sad‘ in discussing the Blagojevich scandal.” Kurtz added that Obama should have said it was “appalling.”

Today in his press conference, Obama did in fact say that he was “appalled” by the scandal and forcefully called on Blagojevich to resign. “I do not think that the governor at this point can effectively serve the people of Illinois,” said Obama. He noted that while he has had zero contact with Blagojevich on the vacant Senate seat, he has directed his staff to review their contacts with the governor’s office, so that those findings can be shared with the press in the coming days.

Obama also addressed Chicago’s infamous culture of corruption, saying that the “wheeling and dealing” has to change:

Now, with respect to Illinois, look, as I said, I think in Illinois, as is true in American politics generally, there are two views of politics. There’s a view of politics that says you go in this for sacrifice and public service, and then there’s a view of politics that says that this is a business, and you’re wheeling and dealing, and what’s in it for me?

And there are — one thing I want to make sure everybody is mindful of — there are extraordinary traditions of public service coming out of Illinois, even after Abraham Lincoln. […]

But what you also have, I think, are habits and a culture that thinks of politics as a — as a means of self-aggrandizement. That’s exactly what has to change.

Watch it:

Blagojevich — who in 2006, promised his mother that he would “never take bribes” — is resisting calls to step down.

Transcript:

OBAMA: I’m also aware of your interest in the matter of the Illinois Senate appointment. Let me say that I was as appalled and disappointed as anybody by the revelations earlier this week.

I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I’m confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials released by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact.

I’ve asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor’s office about this vacancy so that we can share them with you over the next few days. […]

So let me be absolutely clear: I do not think that the governor at this point can effectively serve the people of Illinois. I — the legislature is going down to Springfield to make a determination as to how to resolve this issue. I think they’re going to come to the same conclusion. I hope that the governor himself comes to the conclusion that he can no longer effectively serve and that he does resign. […]

Now, with respect to Illinois, look, as I said, I think in Illinois, as is true in American politics generally, there are two views of politics. There’s a view of politics that says you go in this for sacrifice and public service, and then there’s a view of politics that says that this is a business, and you’re wheeling and dealing, and what’s in it for me?

And there are — one thing I want to make sure everybody is mindful of — there are extraordinary traditions of public service coming out of Illinois, even after Abraham Lincoln.

You know, you’ve got people like Paul Simon, and Paul Douglas, our current senator, Dick Durbin, our senior senator, and many others on both sides of the aisle who have upheld the highest standards of ethics and have made enormous sacrifices to make sure that they’re getting something done for the people of Illinois.

But what you also have, I think, are habits and a culture that thinks of politics as a — as a means of self-aggrandizement. That’s exactly what has to change.

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