WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday
joined others calling for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign,
distancing himself further from the unfolding scandal over
allegations that the governor schemed to barter Obama's vacant
Senate seat for personal gain.
"The president-elect agrees with Lt. Gov. (Pat) Quinn and many
others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the
governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of
Illinois," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said in response to
questions from The Associated Press.
Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday, accused of seeking money or
other favors to influence his choice in picking Obama's
replacement. The governor has authority to appoint the replacement,
but top Illinois lawmakers have said they are preparing to call the
Legislature into session as early as next week to set a special
election to choose Obama's successor.
Asked whether Obama supports a special election, Gibbs said
Obama believes the General Assembly should consider how to fill the
Senate seat and "put in place a process to select a new senator
that will have the trust and confidence of the people of
Aides say Obama is refraining from stating what that solution
If Blagojevich resigns, Quinn would become governor and have the
right to appoint Obama's successor. That would avoid a special
election, which can be costly, and speed up the appointment of
Illinois' junior senator.
Over the past two days since Blagojevich's arrest, Obama and his
aides have largely refrained from commenting on the scandal. When
Obama has spoken about the case, he's been cautious.
In brief comments to reporters Tuesday, Obama said "like the
rest of the people of Illinois I am saddened and sobered by the
news that came out of the U.S. attorney's office today," but he
didn't go so far to condemn Blagojevich's alleged actions.
He did add about Blagojevich's process of considering a
successor: "I had no contact with the governor or his office, and
so I was not aware of what was happening."
Obama reiterated that point in an interview published in the
Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. "I have
not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time," he
But Obama wouldn't answer a question on whether he was aware of
any conversations between the governor and his top aides, including
incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. "It's an ongoing
investigation," Obama said. "I think it would be inappropriate
for me to ... remark on the situation beyond the facts that I
And, aides didn't say whether Emanuel, a Democratic Illinois
congressman, was ever approached by the governor's emissaries
involved in allegedly corrupt schemes. Nor did they say whether
Obama is investigating his own ranks to determine whether any of
his staffers had contact with the governor or his office.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)