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Obama: No Contact With Blagojevich

Following a meeting in Chicago about energy policy and climate change with former Vice President Al Gore and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, which was likely planned to be the big news story of the day, President-elect Barack Obama instead found himself talking about the shocking arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

While seated at a table with the past and future vice presidents, Obama gave a statement to reporters about the meeting. As the press were being herded out of the room, a reporter called out a question asking if Obama was aware of Blagojevich’s efforts to “sell” Obama’s recently-vacated Senate seat, which Obama agreed to answer.

“I had no contact with the governor or his office, and so we were not — I was not aware of what was happening, and as I said it is a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

I couldn’t help but notice that Obama slipped and started to say “we were not aware,” before correcting himself and saying he was not aware of what was happening. This might lend some credibility to a local news report out of Chicago that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, blew the whistle on Blagojevich’s activities. If this was the case, Emanuel would have had contact with the governor or his office on the matter.

Here is part of Obama’s statement on the meeting with Gore, the pool report:

“The purpose of this meeting today was to listen and learn from Vice President Al Gore on the extraordinary work that he has done around the issue of climate change. All three of us are in agreement that the time for delay is over. The time for denial is over. We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now, that this is a matter of urgency and national security, and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That is what I intend my administration to do.”

Obama also reaffirmed his commitment to use the current economic crisis as an opportunity to create green jobs, increase energy efficiency and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Update: TPM reports that a source close to Emanuel says the tip-off story is false.

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