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Axelrod says Obama never pushed Jarrett for Senate at Harvard Institute of Politics election post morteum

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In what I can only describe as a political fantasy, Gov. Blagojevich somehow thought he could extract a Cabinet post from President-elect Barack Obama if he appointed Valerie Jarrett to replace Obama in the Senate.

But the reality is Obama always wanted Jarrett, a confidante who is friends with the president-elect and his wife, Michelle, to work with him in the White House, David Axelrod said Thursday night.

For the first time, Axelrod, Obama's senior campaign strategist who will be a top Obama White House adviser, commented about the scandal.

Axelrod and Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, along with John McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and pollster Bill McInturff, appeared at a forum sponsored by Harvard's Institute of Politics.

Blagojevich's conversations, caught on tape by federal agents and incorporated in a criminal complaint chock full of a variety of alleged Blagojevich schemes, raised the question of what communications, if any, took place between members of the Obama team and Blagojevich.

Obama on Thursday, during a press conference in Chicago, said, "I've asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor's office about this vacancy so that we can share them with you over the next few days."

At Harvard, the forum moderator, PBS' Gwen Ifill, asked Axelrod about the last time he had a chat with the governor.

''It's a painful thing for me coming from Illinois. It's a really appalling story, and there's not a whole lot to clean up. What's been said speaks to it," Axelrod said.

"There's a vacancy the governor apparently -- if you believe the complaint from the government -- had some ideas about what to do with it. We were not involved in that discussion or any discussion of that nature."

During the forum, Axelrod said Obama always wanted Jarrett to work for him in the White House. Afterward, I asked Axelrod how interested Jarrett might have been in the position. Jarrett issued a statement saying she did not want to be a senator as some chatter was heating up. "There were people, not the governor," Axelrod told me, "but there were people who called her and encouraged her to think about it, and I think she thought about it, but ultimately Obama was very clear that he wanted her to be in the White House, there was never any doubt about that."

Axelrod, years ago, was Blagojevich's media consultant when he ran for the House. His son, Michael, was an unpaid intern in Blagojevich's House office.

This whole "episode is disturbing and sad," said Axelrod, adding, "by the way -- he treated my son very well."

5 Comments

WHY WOULD HE?
2 + 2 = 4 BUT OBAMA PUSHING FOR HER TO TAKE HIS
SEAT DOESN'T ADD UP, THE MAN HAS MORE PRESSING
THINGS ON HIS PLATE!
THE GOV DID WRONG NOT OBAMA!

Too bad - he should've pushed for Jarrett. And that Blago was a scumbag to not just pick the best candidate, instead of trying to get something for it... gross.

Well I think if the FOx report is true Rahm Emmanuel is a hero in my eyes. A whistleblower. He was asked to pay to play, refused and then they went to the FBI to rat out the governor. Good deal Emmanuel. I think this speaks volumes about what type of whitehouse Obama will run. Always go to the authorities first, no need to cover up. I know the media still wants more info but as long as the FBI was initially informed I am happy. Case solved!! Ha!

I hope there will continue to be more tranparency but Fitzgerald's press conference made me feel very proud of whoever the person was that ratted out the gov. and relieved about the lack of involvement from Obama's staff. Good deal. There is a new sheriff in town, no more pay to play in DC.

Another fine example of the Democrats doing the right thing. They stopped the Gov from selling this seat, because it is unethical. Senators, Atty General, President Elect are asking for this guy's resignation. This should be considered a "win" for the American people. Finally, we have a leader (President "Elect" Obama) standing up against corruption - something the Bushies & Cheney cronies would never consider.

Hopefully people will see that the Democrats' actions in this situation are in complete contrast to the Republicans who give standing ovations to felons such as Ted Stevens and Diaper Boy David Vitter - (why his AG does not pursue Vitter as "unfit" is unclear - come on Diapers???), and the bathroom stalker Larry Craig. And, the Repugs still try to sell us on the fallacy that they are the party of "family values". What a joke!

This story is a positive reflection on Obama and his team, although the Repugs are trying to rewrite history on this one too.

Hey, Jenny and Corona. Get off your presidential kneepads.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 12, 2008 7:10 AM.

Axelrod said--counter to Blagojevich--Obama never wanted Valerie Jarrett in the Senate was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama Chief of Staff Emanuel ducks whether he was Blagojevich emissary is the next entry in this blog.

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