June 4, 2009
Radio Rod was on Larry King. Came across as sincere and loving of his wife and girls. Talked too much and too repetitively about how he was wronged and what was done to him. He needs to stick to he’s looking forward to his day in court. Surprised he didn’t mention his gig on the Don Wade and Roma Show as the official correspondent for “I’M A CELEBRITY…GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ aka Radio Rod with the Jungle Beat.
Summary: his hair “product of the disco era”, discussed how his wife, Jungle Patti, is doing on the show, says it’s tough to watch her do those these, admits he never realized how much moms do and how hard a job it is, how the kids are handling things, she’s very popular and coming across well, Patti’s getting paid as much as he would have been, wouldn’t disclose how much – “very generous”, 3 reasons Patti went on show: felt an obligation to NBC – thanks them, to support the family and to make money for their charity — the original charity refused because Rod threatened to withhold money from Children’s Memorial Hospital.
He’s still working on his book, not giving up, wants the truth to come out, wouldn’t comment on Burris, says he anxious for the trial to vindicate himself, says the word truth 19 times, he’s innocent, a great injustice has been done to him and his family, there’s meaning in this, mentions that other folks are out of a job — specifically the Michigan autoworkers — and slipped in that Gov Quinn went back on his promise not to raise taxes.
Brings up TONY REZKO who really must have talked as a “central figure in this whole case that both President Obama and I had a close relationship with.” and that “He sent a letter to a federal judge saying that neither president, then Senator Obama, or me were involved in any wrongdoing with him. Now suddenly he emerges in this case in a different light.”
Quotes: MLK, Rudyard Kipling, Teddy Roosevelt and Greek historian by the name of Edith Hamilton.
KING: All right, Rod, welcome. You were just watching your wife on the show a minute ago. How — how is she doing?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: Well, you know, Larry, these are the sorts of things that happen sometimes when you’ve been knocked down and you’re trying to rebuild and pick yourself up. You know, I was originally the one who was going to do that show and I wish I could have done it, because I sure would have liked to have been the one to have to do some of the things that, unfortunately, Patti has to do.
It’s, you know, with mixed feelings that I watch that. It’s difficult to see her have to do something like this.
But it’s a way for us to make a living as we rebuild our lives, keep our kids in the same school that they’re in, stay in the same home that they’ve lived in since — for the past eight years — and try to keep as much of a normal life for our children as possible, even though we have this short period of time in the month of June that their mom is gone. And she’s making a sacrifice because she loves her kids. And eating that tarantula like she had to is an act of love. It’s a sign that this is a mother who loves her children.
KING: More with Rod Blagojevich on very serious matters after the break. Stick around.
KING: As we said, Rod, your wife, Patti, is in Costa Rica. She’s on NBC’s “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” In the first episode, some of her fellow reality contestants brought up your troubles. Watch.
=====BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM “I’M A CELEBRITY…GET ME OUT OF HERE!,” COURTESY NBC==========
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is your husband facing jail time? What happened?
P. BLAGOJEVICH: I can’t really get into it too much, except that, yes, they made a big hoopla out of something that wasn’t even the truth. My husband was governor for six years. Twice voted by the people and, you know, was always about doing the right thing for people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just so you know, when I met him, I was like this is who I would have voted for the president of United States of America.
P. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I appreciate that.
=============END VIDEO CLIP===============
KING: OK, Rod, the judge presiding over the corruption involving you says the trial is going to be probably in the spring of 2010. Why so far away?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I don’t know. The judge sets the schedule. And he’s the boss, as he should be. And so that’s just another obstacle that those of us who would like to move this forward have to deal with. I’m eager for my day in court. I’m eager to vindicate myself. I’m eager for the truth to come out. I’ve been wronged. These are false accusations. And I’m looking forward for the whole story to come out. And I would like very much to be able to get this whole process moving sooner rather than later.
But it’s going to go of its own accord and there’s a — a complicated legal process that necessarily will occur. But I fully expect a fair trial. And I know what the truth is and I know the truth will be one that will vindicate me and put in perspective what’s happened to not only me, but to Patti and our family.
KING: Do you believe, Rod, that nobody is going to work out a plea here, there will definitely be a trial?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: No. There’s definitely going to be a trial. I‘ve done absolutely nothing wrong. I have been wronged. I can’t talk about the case, as you know, Larry. It’s not appropriate. But, you know, I — again, I’m looking forward to my opportunity to finally be able to get all the information out and let people see what the truth is.
You know, there’s a — there are some lines from a poem that Rudyard Kipling wrote that reads: “If you bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools and see the things you gave your life to broken and stoop and build them up with worn out tools.”
Now, they’ve made accusations. People have lied about me. I’m dealing with that. I’m not giving up. I’m picking myself up and I’m dusting myself off, as my wife is, as well. We’re rebuilding our lives. And we’re stooping down with worn out tools to do that. But, ultimately, the truth will be what it is. And the truth will, as the — it’s written in the Bible, set me free, because the truth is that I’ve done nothing wrong.
KING: All right…
R. BLAGOJEVICH: …and did the best I could for the people of Illinois and got a lot of real results done for the average ordinary citizen of my state.
KING: Legal analysts say that anything your wife says could be held against you or her in court. Does any of that worry you?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: No. And I understand lawyers and legal analysts, you know, parse things and are concerned about how some things can be taken out of context and twisted. I’m a living example of how things can be taken out of context and twisted and used against you in an unfair way — and the consequences that go along with that. But, no. I think when you’re in a position like the one I’m in, you have to embrace the truth and ride it and know that, at the end of the day, if you have that on your side, this is America and my fellow citizens will have a chance — who I’ve always trusted and have always mostly, I think, trusted me — they’ll decide what the truth is. And I know what it is with regard to me and my behavior and my actions and my intentions. And, again, I’m confident that I’ll have my opportunity to clear my name.
KING: All right…
R. BLAGOJEVICH: And in the interim, both Patti and I have our lives to live. We’ve got to rebuild our lives. We have our daughters to raise. And we just need to be mindful that as long as we tell the truth, whatever somebody wants to say, it won’t come back and hurt you.
KING: NBC originally wanted you to do the show, naturally. A judge barred you from going to Costa Rica, having seen some episodes — the primitive setting and everything. What do you make of it? Do you think you — you’d want to do that?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, when I knew that I was offered this and we discovered what this was, I — I didn’t want to do it then. I said yes because it was a way to earn a living and — and be able to afford our mortgage and keep our kids in the same school that they’re going in. And it was a very generous offer by NBC. So in spite of what they wanted me to do, I was willing to do it, because you have to sacrifice sometimes for your children and your family. You should always. And, so, unfortunately, the judge made a decision — and I respect his decision — that I shouldn’t go. And Patti chose, instead, to take my place. And again, as I said, it’s with mixed feelings that I watch her on this program because, on the one hand, I want her to do well; on the other hand, we’d like to have her home and my kids — my little 6- year-old…
KING: Yes, jeez…
R. BLAGOJEVICH: …and my 12-year-old, my girls, they miss their mother. She’s never been away from them and — you know, and I’m now Mr. Mom, basically handling these things.
KING: She’s also very…
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Yes, Larry. I’m sorry.
KING: She’s also very popular. We’re going to take a break. And when we come back, we’ll talk about the aspect of that program — who was supposed to get paid, what about charity.
=====BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM “I’M A CELEBRITY…GET ME OUT OF HERE!,” COURTESY NBC============
P. BLAGOJEVICH: My husband is Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois. And the last few months of our lives, it’s been pretty difficult. So, I — you know, in some ways, I’m going to cry. But after that, the jungle doesn’t sound so scary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Patti! Patti, get up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There’s a tarantula on Patti’s leg.
==========END VIDEO CLIP==============
KING: Participants in “I’m A Celebrity…” Can raise money for a charity of their choice. The Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation was approached to be your wife’s charity. Their response is this: “We declined the opportunity because her husband, former Governor Blagojevich, faces federal charges, which include an alleged extortion of our partner, Children’s Memorial Hospital. We wish the show and Mrs. Blagojevich the best of luck.” A couple of questions relating to that, Rod. You said you were doing — you would do it for the need for money. I thought the money goes to charity.
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, there’s — there’s two parts to this. There’s a salary that you get paid to do…
R. BLAGOJEVICH: …the program and participate as a contestant. And then there’s the charity of your choice. And so, for those who vote for Patti to stay on the program, they have the option to then make a donation to the charity of our choice. We chose Bear Necessities because children’s health care has — was the central part of what I was about as the governor of Illinois. We became the first state in America that gave all our kids health care. Again, there’s an accusation against me that’s false with regard to what you just suggested. Kids with pediatric cancer is a cause both Patti and I believe deeply and want to be helpful on.
They turned us down and I certainly respect that. It’s not surprising. We chose a children’s cancer center in Tampa, Florida, that I understand you’re familiar with, Larry, because your son lives in Tampa. They are affiliated with the Moffett Cancer Center, have a great reputation, and it’s a way for people who want to help kids with cancer, their families, whether it’s money for research, or kids having opportunities to do things they otherwise couldn’t do because their parents can’t afford to help them — this is a way to help those kids. I hope people participate and make a donation.
KING: Your wife has said making money to support the family is the reason she’s doing this. Can you tell us what the salary is?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: I’m not permitted to do that. NBC has a contract with Patti. They have had a contract with me. I should say that we’re grateful to NBC for their confidence in us and the opportunity. Patti — among the reason why she chose to take my place was she felt, as I did, that we had an obligation to meet a commitment to NBC that was willing to give me an opportunity in this process, as we begin to rebuild our lives. So she’s doing this because it’s a way to earn some income. But also because we felt an obligation to NBC, and, of course, we had a component where we could help kids with cancer.
KING: Is she getting the same you would have gotten?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: She is. I can say that she’s doing a heck of a lot better than I could ever do.
KING: She’s very popular.
R. BLAGOJEVICH: I hope that’s the case. Those of us who know and love Patti know her to be the best person that we know. And I think her contestants, or fellow contestants, are getting to know her. And I think they kind of appreciate her good qualities. She’s just a great person. Again, the fact that she’s willing to do something like this is all about loving her children and making sure we can keep things as normal for our kids as possible. Albeit this is an unusual way of doing it.
KING: Here’s another clip of Patti on the show. Watch.
============(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)============
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear heavenly father, we just pray over Patti. We pray over her family. We pray over her husband and everything that’s going on, lord. You know the truth. You know that everything that’s happened. I pray the truth will be revealed. I pray that he will triumph in your name, Lord Jesus. I pray that you bless him. They will be delivered from this evil and oppression, Lord Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
P. BLAGOJEVICH: Beautiful, beautiful.
==========END VIDEO CLIP==========
KING: Rod, your wife has not been charged with any crime, but she was referenced in the federal indictment against you. She was heard cursing on audiotape. Chicago newspapers characterize her as Lady Macbeth. Do you think doing this reality show will help her image? What do you think that image is?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, the media and newspapers like to twist things and sensationalize. Yes, she said a bad word because she was angry about the treatment of her husband. And that’s not an unusual thing. She doesn’t speak like that most of the time. They just caught her in a private conversation, when her telephone at home was wire tapped and bugged. Again, I think people have a chance to see her for what she is on that program. Those of us who know her and love her are blessed to have her in our lives.
If I can just say again, the truth will win out in this. I’m looking forward to being vindicated. As we work through this process as a family, we’re not unlike a lot of other families across America. Millions of people have lost their jobs, are being dislocated during these hard times. There are laid off auto workers in Michigan who are rebuilding their lives, retraining as nurses. They’re an inspiration to Patti and me. I’m going to stand tall and I’m fighting this all the way. We’re going to prevail because the truth is on our side. A huge wrong has been done to me and my family. I want people to know they can be underdogs and fight a system that unfairly treated them. They can prevail and survive. And in the meantime, as you work your way through, stand tall.
KING: Rod, without being repetitive, do you think you, at all — you, yourself — made some mistakes in this that led to this? Whether they are legally enough to convict you, were there some parts where you made mistakes?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: You know, again, Larry, I –
KING: Without elaborating.
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Yes, I could say over the years, have I made some mistakes in judgment? Have I put some confidence and faith and reliance on people who ultimately turned out to be people I didn’t know or know to be what they were? There’s a central figure in this whole case that both President Obama and I had a close relationship with. He sent a letter to a federal judge saying that neither president, then Senator Obama, or me were involved in any wrongdoing with him. Now suddenly he emerges in this case in a different light. Is he the person I thought he was?
KING: Who is that?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: A fellow by the name of Tony Rezko. Again, without going into all the details, sure, I probably put the wrong trust in some people. But in terms of my intentions, what I was trying to do, with regard to the Senate seat, when the truth comes out, I think the American people will find this to be a remarkable story. And again, it’s a story that I think will have historic implications.
KING: Let me get a break. The governor used to be a very busy guy. How is he spending time these days? We’ll ask after the break.
========(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)==========
R. BLAGOJEVICH: I think there’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me. I prefer to be compared to people like Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and others in history. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath.
========(END VIDEO CLIP)=========
KING: Rod, before we ask how you’re spending your time, how are the girls dealing with this?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you, Larry, I appreciate you asking. We have two little girls, our six-year-old — she just turned six on April 5th — and our daughter Amy is going to be 13 on August 3rd. She is 12 now. They’re different ages. So it is different for both of them. Our older one, obviously, is more aware of the circumstances, and the gravity of it and magnitude of it. It’s affected her more, in a more complicated way. She’s dealing with different issues. But I think for the most part pretty good. Patti, again, has done a great job making sure our kids live as normal a life as possible. They do their routines. Amy skates, goes to school. She plays the oboe and is very active. Our little one is six. She’s dealing with it in her own way as well.
KING: Does the 12-year-old ask you about it?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Not that much. She talks to her mother more about it. We’ve assured her — we’ve talked to her in a broad sense about some of this. And the part of what’s happened is part of this political process today, in the 21st century, that I did nothing wrong, and that, ultimately, I’ll have a chance, with my fellow citizens, to determine what the truth of things are.
KING: How are you spending —
R. BLAGOJEVICH: How am I spending my time, Larry? I’m writing a book.
KING: The governor is pretty busy. Now you’re a former governor. You have no occupation. What are you doing?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: That’s a good question. You know, somebody asked that the other day. I guess I’m technically an author. I’m writing a book. I have a publisher, and we’re working on a book. I’m actively involved in that. It’s hard, because I’m writing about a lot of this stuff. Some of it is painful to even think about, much less write about. In the short run, more immediate period, while Patti is in the jungle, I’m now discovering how difficult her life has been on a day- to-day basis, since I’m the primary care-giver with our two little girls. It’s amazing how sometimes we take for granted what moms do and parents who care for their kids on a day to day basis.
KING: Can the book come out before the trial, if you’re writing openly about everything that happened?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: That’s the intention. Yes, of course. Again –
KING: If the book can come out before the trial, why can’t you discuss other aspects now?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I — because there’s a court proceeding that needs to be respected. And the book will write about things that will be done in such a way that respects that court proceeding. And you’ll have to wait and see ultimately what’s in it, and how it comes out. It’s still a work in progress. But I wish I could talk about everything I know. I wish I could tell you about the accusations and answers –
KING: I assume you will in your book, though.
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I’ll talk a lot about a lot of stuff.
KING: You want people to buy the book?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Well, I wanted to write about the truth. Whether they buy it — I hope they do. I think there’s a lot of interesting things I can talk about. Again, there will be an opportunity in a court of law, with sworn testimony and sworn witnesses.
KING: OK. I got you. We’ll be right back. Former governor — you want to add something? Go ahead quickly.
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Again, I just want to say, I wish I could tell you what I know. I wish I could answer these questions. It’s very difficult when you’re in a position like I’m in, where people have said things about you, falsely accused you, and the media has decided to rush to judgment and, all of a sudden, the presumption of innocence that we thought was a fundamental right of all of us as citizens was stripped away from you. And then you’re taken from your office that people elected you twice by cynical politicians who have their own motives, who wouldn’t allow you to bring evidence in to prove you did nothing wrong, wouldn’t allow you to bring in taped telephone conversations, every one of them, and let you hear them in a proceeding. And then you’re ripped out of that job and the people are left with a governor who breaks a promise that I made not to raise taxes. The first thing he does is –
KING: I got to take a break.
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Yes, sir.
KING: We’ll have more on the former governor.
KING: That’s OK. I understand. I’d be emotional too. Our remarkable question of the night is 60 seconds away. Don’t go away.
KING: We have a call for Rod Blagojevich from Toronto. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: I just wanted to ask Rod how is he going to deal with the fact that Patti has become so popular and he’s used to being the celebrity. I watched Patti the last couple nights. I found her to be a really down Earth mom. It was really nice to see. How is he going to deal with her being the nice one and him being the bad guy?
R. BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you for that. I think great. I love Patti more than I love myself. I would literally die for my wife, of course, my children. You know, it’s true, she’s — I’ve been the governor and the politician and the elected official, and that’s kind of where the spotlight is. I have absolutely no problem seeing her pursue her dreams or being the more successful one, or, in this case, the one that is better liked. And if in fact she is better liked, which I think she surely should be, that’s the right place to be. She’s the better person between the two of us.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Nicole in Bloomington, Indiana. “If you are legally cleared in your lifetime, what would be the appropriate recompense for what you’ve gone through?”
R. BLAGOJEVICH: You know, when you go through something like this, and you know that you’ve done nothing wrong, and you’re shocked that so many of these things have happened the way they have, and you’ve been fighting through them, you spend time, when you have the time, as I’ve had, to reflect a little bit and to think through some of this. You can choose to be bitter and you can be angry and you can choose to just give up and lose perspective. Or you can choose to try to find wisdom in all of this.
I’ve had a chance to do a little bit of reading during this period of time. And I’ve read a Greek historian by the name of Edith Hamilton. She wrote a poet named Eschylus during the golden age of Athens, who wrote about suffering and pain. And he said, “even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart. And in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us through the awful grace of god.”
I believe there’s a purpose for this. Both Patti and I have a deep faith in God. And we’ve been blessed by the good wishes of people across America who are — who have sent their best to us. And I have to believe that there’s a reason why this has happened the way it has, and that there’s still a purpose for both of us, but certainly for me to do things where I can continue to serve people. All of my adult life has been about serving people. And I still think there’s a role for me when this is over, where I can play a role to help the average little guy, the way I did when I was governor.
KING: A couple more important things to cover when we come back. Don’t go away.
KING: Governor, federal officials secretly recorded a phone conversation between Roland Burris, the current senator, and your brother, Robert, back in mid-November. The tape was released late last month. Let’s listen to a brief excerpt and then get your comment.
===========(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)==========
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH, BROTHER: If you guys can just write checks, that’d be fine, if we can’t find a way to tie in.
SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: OK, OK. Well, we — I will personally do something, OK.
ROB. BLAGOJEVICH: All right, Roland.
BURRIS: And it will be done before the 15th of December.
ROB. BLAGOJEVICH: OK.
BURRIS: All right.
ROB. BLAGOJEVICH: You’re a good friend. I’ll pass on your message.
BURRIS: Please do. Tell Rod to keep me in mind for that seat. Would you?
ROB. BLAGOJEVICH: I’ll let him know.
========(END VIDEO CLIP)=========
KING: Governor, Senator Burris maintains that that recording is proof he didn’t take part in any pay to play scheme to get the United States Senate appointment. What are your thoughts on all of that?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Well, you know, I think that tape speaks for itself. It’s a fund-raising call. I understand that Roland didn’t make a contribution. He had helped in the past. That’s a normal part of the process. He’s raising money now, presumably, for his re- election, as are all the senators. They do it all the time, all the Congressman. He said no. I made him a United States senator. It’s just the opposite of what’s being alleged. Again, I can’t wait for all the truth to come out about that Senate seat and the decisions I made and the actions I took regarding doing what was right for the people of our state. Yes, Larry?
KING: Are you recommending to the people that they re-elect Senator Burris?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: I’m not going to interject myself in that. I don’t know that I would be doing him any favors if I were to make a suggestion at this point. Again, let me simply say, what’s happened to me is wrong. And I did nothing wrong. The truth will come out, and this will be –
KING: I don’t want you to be repetitive.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: I’m not trying to be repetitive. I just want to point out, no one needs to feel sorry for us or feel that somehow Patti and I are giving up. We’ve had opportunities to rebuild our lives. And this opportunity on “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” by NBC is very unique. All of these workers who have lost their jobs across America today, very few of them are given those rare opportunities that Patti and I have been given.
So, in many ways, we’ve been very lucky. Everybody goes through valleys in their lives. That’s what the journey of life is. And sometimes how you deal with your valleys suggests whether or not you’ll ever be on a peak again. In my life experience, because life is filled with ups and downs, when you’re knocked down, you pick yourself up; you dust yourself off’ you don’t complain. You don’t have hate in your heart. You have love in your heart. And you move and look to the future. And you do what Teddy Roosevelt said, which is black hair never catches a rider whose pace is fast enough. You keep moving forward.
KING: By the way, you’re not going to believe this, but a lot of Tweets today on our Twitter thing about your hair. They tell me thousands of people want to know who cuts it, how much money would it take to get you to shave it off?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: I want to plug my barber. His name is Peter, Mr. Barber on Oak. He’s a great guy. He cuts Lou Pinella’s hair and Mick Jagger actually went to his barber shop when he was here for a concert. I know people make fun of it. Whatever they say, it is what it is.
KING: You like it?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: I comb it enough. But thank you. I’m a product of the disco era.
KING: San Diego, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Governor, your wife said she was fired from her non-profit job as a result of your alleged acts and behaviors. Are you considering a wrongful termination suit based on this?
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Thank you for that. There’s been discussion of that. We have decided so far not to do it, because it’s an organization that helps the homeless. But that’s exactly what happened to Patti after the allegations were leveled against me. The not-for-profit organization that she was working at had a one-year contract to help feed the homeless. She was doing an exceptional job. Everybody was saying that, up until the time of my arrest. Then they decided to terminate her. And I imagine they have their own political reasons and others why they did it. It had nothing to do with her work product at all. At this stage, it’s not something we’re pursuing. And we’re moving on. Again, politics is a rough and tumble business.
Dr. King said that when there are difficult times, it’s not the words of your enemies that you remember, it’s the silence of your friends. And when something like what happened to me happens, people run away. And people don’t want any of what you have in their neighborhood. So I think in the respect to Patti’s job and the not- for profit that she worked with, they probably felt that they didn’t want the headache of some of the baggage that went along with Patti being my wife.
KING: Rod, thank you so much for being with us. We’ll be calling on you again. Keep in touch.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Thanks. Thanks for having me, Larry. Appreciate it.