During a press conference this morning in Chicago, ostensibly to officially name former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as President-elect Barack Obama’s pick for secretary of health and human services and director of the White House office of health reform, Obama found himself talking mostly about the scandal surrounding Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
When asked by a reporter why he did not personally call for Blagojevich to step down, a move Obama’s staff yesterday said he supports, Obama criticized the “tradition where people view politics as a business,” before saying he hopes the governor will resign.
I do not think that the governor, at this point, can effectively serve the people of Illinois. 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 he does resign.
Obama reaffirmed that he had not spoken to Blagojevich about the appointment to fill his vacated Senate seat and pledged to provide details of all contact his transition staff had with Blagojevich’s office in the coming days.
I had no contact with the governor’s office. I did not speak to the governor about these issues, that I know for certain. What I want to do is to gather all the facts about any staff contacts that may have taken place between the transition office and the governor’s office, and we’ll have those in the next few days and we’ll present them. But what I’m absolutely certain about is that our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my Senate seat. That, I’m absolutely certain of, and that would be a violation of everything this campaign has been about. That’s not how we do business.
Obama also said he has not been contacted by federal investigators on the matter.
While Obama addressed the issue more forcefully than he has to date, chattering about “What did Obama know?” which is already mostly limited to Republican circles and the conservative blogosphere, will likely persist at least until the transition releases information about any meetings with the governor’s staff.
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