And in the process, they contradict themselves … twice. Jake Tapper reports:
“Obviously like the rest of the people of Illinois I am saddened and sobered by the news that came out of the US attorney’s office today,” said President-elect Obama this afternoon in Chicago, speaking of the criminal complaint against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich for corruption. “But as this is a ongoing investigation involving the governor I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on the issue at this time.”
Asked what contact he’d had with the governor’s office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”
But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different.
While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a “kingmaker,” Axelrod said, “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”
Here’s the video:
In an update, Tapper writes:
An Obama Transition Team aide says that Axelrod misspoke on Fox News Chicago.
Translation: He said something he shouldn’t have.
More, from the Tapper piece:
And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house.
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary that year, then-state sen. Obama endorsed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris. But after Blagojevich won, Obama came around enthusiastically. At the same time, meanwhile, Axelrod had such serious concerns about whether Blagojevich was ready for governing he refused to work for his one-time client.
According to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., Mr. Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff, Emanuel, then-state senator Obama, a third Blagojevich aide, and Blagojevich’s campaign co-chair, David Wilhelm, were the top strategists of Blagojevich’s 2002 gubernatorial victory.
Emanuel told the New Yorker earlier this year that he and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.”
Wilhelm said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role. “There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them,” Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was “an architect or one of the principal strategists.”
(An Obama Transition Team aide emails to note that Emanuel later changed his recollection of this story to Rich Miller’s “CAPITOL FAX,” saying, “David [Wilhelm] and I have worked together on campaigns for decades. Like always, he’s right and I’m wrong.”)
LOL. This isn’t the first time the Obama camp has contradicted itself. See here and here for two other examples of bigtime contradictions during the general election campaign. Clearly, the incoming Obama admin is going to have to work a lot better at being “in sync” and unified with each other on what message they want to present to the public. Perhaps he should get some advice from his pick for Sec. of State on “message control.”
Interestingly enough, rumor has it that it may have been Obama’s COS and fellow a Chic-town politico machinist Rahm Emanuel who tried to help the feds by giving them info on Blago’s “pay to play” scheme. It wouldn’t be surprising if he had a hand in it – after all, the pattern is with Barack Obama to throw anyone under the bus once their usefulness runs its course. Emanuel’s denying the reports, of course, presumably because Obama wants people to think that neither he nor anyone on his staff spoke with Blago even innocently about the issue, so we’ll probably never know who the tipster was. But on the off chance that we do, rest assured that the media will try and portray Emanuel as the “hero” who brought down a Chicago corruptocrat, in spite of the fact that Emanuel (and Obama) both were long part of and beneficiaries of that same machine.