The former Illinois governor outdoes himself in an interview with Esquire during the taping of "Celebrity Apprentice":
It's such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of sh** and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we *hope* the guy is. What the f***? Everything he's saying's on the teleprompter. I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.
Also, an unlikely-sounding claim:
David Axelrod called me the day after John Kerry lost to Bush — Wednesday — and he said, You need to think about running for president in 2008. A new face from the Midwest to challenge Hillary Clinton. He used to work for me. He had Obama in his stable already — he's a consultant, so he's just gathering potential talents. That's what these guys do — it's all about picking winners.
I emailed Axelrod to ask about the claim, and will update if there's a response. The view of Blagojevich as a potential presidential contender, however, has always largely been confined to the former governor himself.
UPDATE: David Axelrod emails:
Total and complete fabrication. I told Blagojevich in 2001 that I could not work for him for governor because I didn't believe he should run. I hardly would then recommend that he run for President. I had heard he was having meetings within a year of running for governor to discuss a presidential race. I thought that prospect was ludicrous.
Like I said before, he just doesn't get it.You're done, Rod. Give it up.