Barack Obama: January 2009 Archives

WASHINGTON--President Obama tapped Vice President Biden to lead a middle class working families task force. In announcing the drive, Obama and Biden welcomed organized labor back to White House, after unions spent eight years in exile during the Bush administration.

Biden went out of his way to promise transparency in his task force--taking a big swipe, it seemed at former Vice President Cheney who allowed no public input into the fairly secret energy task force he headed. Of course, bring up transparency and task forces also behooves me to bring up how former First Lady, now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton caught enormous criticism because her health care task force was run out of the sunlight.

The Obama White House may make mistakes--how could it not--but it is not going to repeat mistakes of prior administrations.

Click below for White House fact sheet on task force.

WASHINGTON--This is a region that has never learned how to handle snow and cold, though each winter routinely brings both.

President Obama on Wednesday, learning that an ice storm shut schools and offices, told the city to toughen up and adopt to Chicago standards.

"As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never cancelled. In fact, my seven-year-old pointed out that you'd go outside for recess in weather like this. You wouldn't even stay indoors. So it's -- I don't know. We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town," Obama said.

Bad weather rarely closes anything in Chicago. The Obama daughters' school cancelled class, triggering Obama to stray from some planned remarks about the economy and telling Washington to learn to cope.

Here's the whole exchange:

"So, it's good to see you guys. Can I make a comment that is unrelated to the economy, very quickly? And it has to do with Washington. My children's school was cancelled today because of what?

..... Some -- some ice?

"... As my -- as my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never cancelled. In fact, my seven-year-old pointed out that you'd go outside for recess in weather like this. You wouldn't even stay indoors. So it's -- I don't know. We're going to have to try to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town.

Obama was asked about Washingtonians being "weak."

I'm saying, when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things."

WASHINGTON--"Air Force One" is not the name of a specific plane; rather it is the air traffic signal for a plane with the president on board. When then President elect Obama took his first official flight--from Chicago to Andrews Air Force Base--he was on one of two jumbo jets recognized around the world as "Air Force One." When he met the pilot, Col. Scott Turner, he told him he look "right out of central Sam Shepard in "The Right Stuff." The National Geographic Channel on Sunday night at 7 p.m. Chicago time premieres "On Board Air Force One."

Oprah Winfrey's Friday show features an interview with Chicago Sun-Times page one designer James Smith, who talks about the iconic front pages he designed marking President Obama's election win, transition and inauguration.

The Evanston based The Strategy Group--consultants on the Obama presidential campaign--named Douglas Herman as partner and added three senior vice presidents:
Sheila Nix in the Chicago office; Michael Berman in Philadelphia office, and Morton Brilliant in the Washington DC office.

for more, click below

WASHINGTON--Not on any schedule, the Obamas hosted an exclusive late night gathering at the White House after coming home from dancing at ten balls, I'm told.

The fete was intended for very close Obama friends and family. The event was scheduled between midnight and 2:30 a.m. and invitees were told the Obamas' may not show. But they did. Michelle, cut out early; Obama stayed. There was a champagne toast.

Among those present:

Oprah Winfrey
Valerie Jarrett
David Axelrod
Mayor Daley
Craig Robinson
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.)
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Alabama)


Obama speech sober by design

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WASHINGTON -- President Obama made a clean break from the Bush years of "false choices" in his inaugural address on Tuesday, deliberately sober as he called for a "new era of responsibility."

Obama is taking office as the nation is at war and the economy is in a nosedive. Completing the transition from campaigning to the awesome task ahead of governing, he tamped down his soaring rhetoric to let the nation know there are tough times ahead.

WASHINGTON--President Obama just spoke and danced with First Lady Michelle at the Illinois-Hawaii "home states" ball.

Said Obama, "This is a special ball because it represents our roots, Hawaii, Illinois, together you've given us so much. So many of you got involved not just in my campaign, but got involved in our lives, many, many years ago...."

(photo by David McKinney)

WASHINGTON--Worried that the crowds at the subway station--and blocked roads and bridges would mean delay in getting to the Capitol early Tuesday for the inauguration of Barack Obama, some of us--and I am one--decided to sleep in our well located Sun-Times bureau instead.

With the city in lockdown, we hiked the mile plus to the Capitol early Tuesday. Dressed for the cold. I'm in layers and shivering; Michelle Obama is walking down Pennsylvania Avenue right now in the inaugural parade without an overcoat, though it looks like she has a matching mustard colored sweater under her frock.

For me, it is:
*2 pairs of socks
*wool slacks
*high next zipper sweatshirt
*down vest
*North Face heavy down jacket, hood.
*air activated warmers in gloves, shoes.

WASHINGTON--A serious looking President Obama just commented on Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), stricked during Obama's inaugural lunch in the Capitol.

"First of all, I know that while I was out of the room, concern was expressed about Teddy. He was there when the Voting Rights Act passed, along with John Lewis was a warrior for justice. And so I would be lying to you if I -- if I did not say that right now, a part of me is with him, and I think that's true for all of us. This is a joyous time, but it's also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family and Vicky," Obama said.

Click below for his full comments at the lunch.

(photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--"It means everything." That's what Oprah Winfrey--sitting down the row from Caroline Kennedy-- told me when we chatted about attending the inauguration of President Obama just before the ceremony.

One of the hottest VIP sections at the presidential inauguration was just below the West Capitol steps, with Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Denzel Washington, Jennifer Lewis and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, among others.

I asked Winfrey what it meant for her to be at the inauguration. During the Democrat primary last year Winfrey jumped into partisan politics by fund-raising for and stumping with Obama and wife Michelle.

Obama's journey

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WASHINGTON--Guesting on Oprah Winfrey's pre-Inauguration show, broadcast from the Kennedy Center here, Jill Biden, wife of Vice President elect Joe Biden accidently made news on the show. She said that President elect Barack Obama offered Biden a choice between vice president and Secretary of State. That would imply that Hillary Rodham Clinton, tapped by Obama for the post was not at the top of the list. The statement below from Jill Biden's spokesperson tries to clarify Biden's remarks.

Statement from Spokesperson for the Vice President-elect Elizabeth Alexander:

"Like anyone who followed the presidential campaign this summer, Dr. Jill Biden knew there was a chance that President-elect Obama might ask her husband to serve in some capacity and that, given his background, the positions of Vice President and Secretary of State were possibilities. Dr. Biden's point to Oprah today was that being Vice President would be a better fit for their family because they would get to see him more and get to participate in serving more. To be clear, President-elect Obama offered Vice President-elect Biden one job only -- to be his running mate. And the Vice President-elect was thrilled to accept the offer."

johnson.jpg (photo courtesy Johnson family)

Sandra Johnson and daughters on the National Mall Sunday afternoon......on witnessing the inauguration of Barack Obama

"This is history. I'm never going to see this again. I want to tell my children about this."
---Jerae Johnson, 25, Robbins, a lab technician.

---"Seeing just the different people coming together, not just the African-American people, different people uniting for the purpose of the nation."
--Sharletha Johnson, 34, Oak Forest, a civil engineer.

"It was like Martin Luther King. He had a dream and Barack Obama fulfilled that dream."
--Sandra Johnson, 55, Robbins, a teacher.

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama will be able to do things at "warp speed that no other president has been able to do in a long time," John Podesta, the co-chairman of the Obama transition team told me, basing his assessment "on the way he ran his campaign, the way he ran his transition."

Obama's smooth transition -- with only a few bumps along the way -- is the result of an organizational effort that began quietly last August when Podesta signed on. Big-picture thinking about what an Obama White House would look like started back in April, with Obama looping in just a few people.

Obama takes the oath of office Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States at a time when the economy is bad and Obama, in speeches, keeps warning that the situation will get worse.

Podesta, a Chicago native who grew up in Jefferson Park, served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Podesta told the Chicago Sun-Times the top task in the first 100 days of the Obama administration is "to get this recovery package through the Congress."

"We need to get jobs stabilized and grown again, and so I think it's going to be all hands on deck to try to move that recovery bill through. It's big, it's complicated, but it's aimed at the right questions: energy, education, restoring the infrastructure in the country and health care.

"Those are bridges to long-term goals of the Obama administration, so that it is critical that that get done and it get done quickly, and I'm quite confidant that it will be done before Presidents Day," Podesta said.

On other matters:

• • Obama may have a team of rivals in his Cabinet and top White House staff -- but he won't tolerate rivalry. Obama "demands" teamwork, Podesta said.

"The people who develop rivalries in the Obamaland? They don't do so good. You may not have noticed that during the course of the campaign. But people who are shooting at each other? They tend to get iced out," Podesta told me.

below, from the PIC.....


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden will appear at "WE ARE ONE: THE OBAMA INAUGURAL CELEBRATION AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL." The event will be broadcast live on an open signal by HBO and live on the radio by NPR. The event includes a diverse array of talent featuring both musical performances and historical readings.

Musical performers scheduled for the event include Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, Bettye LaVette, Jon Bon Jovi, Mstr.Sgt. Caleb Green (US Army), John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Pete Seeger, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, and Stevie Wonder. Among those reading historical passages will be Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah, Denzel Washington, Jack Black, Steve Carell, Rosario Dawson, Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Ashley Judd, Kal Penn, Forest Whitaker and Tiger Woods. The Rt. Reverend V. Gene Robinson will give the invocation. Rob Mathes will be the music director and arranger for the backing band, which will support all of the artists.

WASHINGTON--The British ambassador to the United States feted Illinoisans--and others--here for the inauguration of President elect Barack Obama at a Saturday afternoon reception in his residence along this city's Embassy Row.

Among those present: new Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago); assistant House Majority Leader Louis Lang (D-Skokie); Cheryle Jackson, chief of Chicago's Urban League; Tim Mapes, chief of staff to House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago); state Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville); state Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).

Also seen: former Illinois State Democratic Party Chairman Gary LaPaille and wife Chris (they live here now); superlawyer Bob Barnett, a Waukegan native; Obama pollster Joel Benenson; Pat Souders, chief of staff to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); Tammy (Tam Cam) Haddad, the video producer and Obama budget director Peter Orszag

By Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. defied the cold Saturday to stand in their backyards or at train stations to wave at President-elect Barack Obama as he took an old-fashioned, Abraham Lincoln-style train ride to Tuesday's inauguration.

"As I prepare to leave for Washington on a trip that you made possible, I know that I will not be traveling alone. I'll be taking you with me," Obama told 40,000 cheering fans in downtown Baltimore in 20-degree weather.

"Folks, this is more than an ordinary train ride -- this is a new beginning," Vice President-elect Joe Biden told 8,000 fans in Wilmington, Del., at the train stop where he boards the Amtrak for work every day.

Aboard the Obama express

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Chicago Sun-Tmes Political Reporter
ABOARD THE GEORGIA 300 -- "Folks, this is more than an ordinary train ride -- this is a new beginning," Vice President-elect Joe Biden said as he prepared to join President-elect Barack Obama on a train ride to next week's inauguration.

"To the conductors who make our trains run and to the workers who lay down the rails; to the parents who worry about how they're going to pay the bills next month on the commute to work, and to the children who hear the whistle of the train and dream of a better life -- that's who we're fighting for. That's who needs change," Obama told the crowd of some 8,000 bundled-up Delaware residents in Wilmington who clapped in gloved hands at the Amtrak stop where Biden catches his train to work every day.

Like President Abraham Lincoln did 150 years ago, Obama is taking taking the train in from Philadelphia before his inauguration. It's a 79-yer-old Pullman car called the "Georgia 300."


Obama's historic train trip

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By Abdon Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Political Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Evoking yet another comparison with Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama launched his march to the inauguration with a whistlestop speech at 30st Street Station here as Lincoln did 150 years ago.

"As I prepare to leave for Washington on a trip that you made possible, know that I will not be traveling alone," Obama told some 200 supporters gathered in an historic, marble-walled room at the station with nine flags behind him.


WASHINGTON--The iconic "Hope" mixed media collage of Barack Obama by artist Shepard Fairey was aptly hung on the "new arrival" wall at the entrance of the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday.

The painting was a gift of Tony and Heather Podesta in honor of Tony Podesta's late mother, Mary. Tony and his brother John, a co-chair of the Obama transition team, grew up on Chicago's Northwest Side.


WASHINGTON--President elect Barack Obama's team is intent on continuing to use social networking tools to communicate directly with the millions of people on its lists, with a mass text message sent Thursday evening with information about Tuesday's inauguration, Monday's day of national service and more.

WASHINGTON--Another Chicagoan has been tapped for a White House post, Jonathan Samuels, a former deputy chief of staff to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) Samuels, a Hill veteran, will be Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs.

Samuels, an Evanston native, served in the Obama presidential campaign as the southern regional director and has been working on the transition team dealing with congressional affairs. After Schakowsky, Samuels moved over to the office of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)

BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Columnist

WASHINGTON--President-elect Barack Obama revealed Sunday he is closing in on selecting the first dog -- either a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound. Here for one week, Obama and his family explored some of the city over the weekend.
The long-promised dog is a gift for daughters Malia and Sasha. "This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary," Obama told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week."

The Obamas moved here a week ago, coming a bit early so their girls could start at the beginning of the semester of their new school, Sidwell Friends.

Obama told Stephanopoulos that his children "seemed to thrive" the first week and "don't seemed to be fazed by anything. People think -- you know, folks think I'm cool, but they are a lot cooler than I am."

In other first family-elect developments here:

• • Marion Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother, has been bunking here with the rest of the family at the Hay-Adams Hotel near the White House. She will probably move into the White House with the family. However, I'm told that Robinson values her independence and is not sure if she wants to live there long term or give up her home on Chicago's South Side.

• • The Obama family visited the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday night; at one point, Obama seemed to pause in front of Abraham Lincoln's statute.

Host George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" covered a lot of ground Sunday with President elect Barack Obama. Click at the end for the full transcript. Links follow for key elements.

Obama: Gitmo Likely Won't Close in First 100 Days

From George's Bottom Line online column:
Obama: Finding Girls' Puppy 'Tougher Than Finding Commerce Secretary'

Obama Leaves Door Open (a Bit) On Prosecuting Bush Officials

Obama Defends Tax Cuts in Stimulus Plan

Obamas to Search for D.C. Church

Obama Worried About Mumbai Attack 'Copycats'

Obama Slams Cheney Over Waterboarding

Obama: Closing Gitmo More Difficult Than People Realize

While controversy swirls over getting Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's signature on a document to certify the Senate appointment by Gov. Blagojevich of Roland Burris, I thought I would show what the Senate certificate for Barack Obama signed by Blagojevich and White looks like.


WASHINGTON---Here's an update on a Dec. 29 column I did faulting the Obama transition team for not posting meetings transition officials are having with outside groups on a Web site. The omission of this data violated the transition "seat at the table" transparency policy. The transition does post documents groups bring to a meeting or submit for study by transition officials. That's good, an improvement on past practices of prior administrations. But that's not a meeting list.

Right after my column ran, the transition started to list some meetings with groups that did not bring any documents to post. The names of the groups and the representatives were listed. Not included were names of the transition officials who they met with.

Tim Kaine, Barack Obama (photo by Lynn Sweet)

Barack Obama (photo by Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON--President elect Barack Obama introduced his pick to run the Democratic National Committee, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Thursday, declaring "we cannot afford to abandon the movement that we built."

Obama and Kaine appeared together for a 10 minute event at the DNC headquarters here, taking no questions. Kaine is replacing DNC chair Howard Dean, whose term ends next month. Kaine's term as governor ends in 2010.

In taking the post, Kaine said "I want to promote this
president's agenda. I want to carry the proud banner of a proud
party. And I want to work to creatively engage citizens in new ways
through this party to be active in civic life."

Obama noted the "movement" his campaign created and signaled that the DNC will be playing a major role in being the keeper of the flame. Obama also said his DNC will be looking for pragmatic candidates who favor results over ideology.

"On the other hand, it would be a mistake to take our success in
the campaign as a sign that our work is somehow complete. At a time
when the challenges we face in this country are so vast, we cannot
afford to abandon the movement we built. We have to strengthen it," Obama said.

"We must build a movement for change that can endure beyond a
single election. And that will require redoubling our efforts to
reach out to Americans, throughout our 50 states, north and south,
east and west.

"We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime, a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks."--President elect Barack Obama, Jan. 8, 2009.

WASHINGTON -- When President-elect Barack Obama visited Capitol Hill on Monday to meet with congressional leaders, he huddled with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the subject of Gov. Blagojevich's controversial appointment of Roland Burris to fill Obama's vacant Senate seat came up.

Obama's message, a Democratic source told me, was that the nation is facing a lot of problems, Illinois needs someone in the Senate seat, the commotion over Burris is a distraction, and an amicable solution needs to be found.

And here is what emerged: The Senate Democrats backed down from their vow not to seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich, who is accused, among other crimes, of trying to sell Obama's seat. Burris pulled back his demand to be seated immediately and agreed to a road map laid out by Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin, the assistant majority leader, that should lead to Burris securing the seat.

WASHINGTON--After a 45-minute meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Wednesday morning, Roland Burris seemed set on a course to take a seat in the Senate.

Reid, who met Burris for the first time said the question will eventually be put before the entire Senate. Durbin has known Burris for more than 30 years. The mood was one of conciliation. Senate Democrats had said--before Burris was appointed--that they would not seat anyone tapped by Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell the Obama seat for a job or campaign contributions.

Burris has two hurdles to clear--none seem to be a problem-- before Senate Democrats lift their objections to approving an appointment from the tainted Gov. Blagojevich: a certification signature from the Illinois Secretary of State, expected soon one way or the other; and for Burris to testify before the Illinois House impeachment panel that he made no deal with the scandalized governor for the appointment.

WASHINGTON--Another Chicagoan is being tapped for the White House; Susan Sher, the vice president for Legal and Governmental Affairs and General Counsel at the University of Chicago Medical Center will be an associate counsel to President elect Barack Obama. Sher is a close friend of Michelle Obama--and her boss at the U of Chicago--as well as Valerie Jarrett--incoming White House adviser. Sher will provide legal advice to the incoming First Lady according to the transition as well as working on legal issues connected with health care policy.

Sher served as Mayor Daley's Corporation Counsel between 1993 and 1997, where she worked in City Hall with Jarrett. Jarrett also has been Sher's overseer, as the Chair of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board and also Chair of theExecutive Committee of that board.

WASHINGTON--President elect Barack Obama and wife Michelle--based in their temporary home in the Hay Adams hotel--sent daughters Malia and Sasha off to their new school on Monday. While Obama headed t Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders, Michelle took Malia, 10, to the Sidwell Friends school in northwest Washington, down the street from the National Cathedral where she is in the fifth grade. Sasha, 7, in second grade, is at the lower school campus in Bethesda, Md.

The Obamas are trying to find a balance of guarding the privacy of their girls and realizing the enormous public interest in their kids. Towards that end, the Obama transition website, www, released a photo gallery Monday morning of the girls with their backpacks and the folks.

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opened the door Sunday for Roland Burris to be sworn in as a senator from Illinois. "There's always room to negotiate," Reid told David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press."

From the soundings I took Sunday, I have a well-informed hunch that if Burris wants to get a deal done quickly, he needs to say he won't run for the seat in 2010.

Obama girls in Washington

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(Obama Transition Office)

WASHINGTON--Saying goodbye to Chicago, President elect Barack Obama landed at Andrews Air Force Base near 7 p.m., flying in a government plane for the first time since the election. "I gotta say I choked up a little bit leaving my house today," Obama told reporters on the aircraft for the historic ride. Obama, usually a careful eater, order a cheeseburger during the flight.

A stretch limo headed Obama off to the Hays Adam hotel, where he will be staying with this family.

WASHINGTON--Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia are here getting ready for the first day of school at Sidwell Friends on Monday. I'm told by a pal whose kids go to Sidwell that the parents were sent word just to be normal. The guidance from Katie McCormick-Lelyveld, Michelle Obama's spokesman is this "There are no public events scheduled for Michelle and the girls this week, but they are in DC getting settled." I'm also told that there may be a photo op tomorrow morning allowing a pool photo of Michelle getting the girls off to class. Still no official announcement yet if Marion Robinson, Michelle's mom, who is moving to Washington, will be living in the White House or someplace else.

In the meantime, President elect Obama wants to focus on Congress and big economic bill; he meets with House and Senate leadership in the afternoon and with his own economic team.

Monday's guidance from the Obama transition:

President-elect Barack Obama will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Capitol Hill on Monday. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will join Obama for a meeting with Democratic and Republican congressional leadership on Capitol Hill on Monday afternoon. Meeting participants will include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Minority Leader John Boehner, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. There will be a pooled spray at the top of the bi-partisan meeting.

President-elect Barack Obama will hold a meeting with his top economic advisors on Monday afternoon at his Washington DC transition office. There will be a pooled spray at the end of the meeting. Participants in the meeting will include Melody Barnes, Director-designate, Domestic Policy Council; Carol Browner, Assistant-designate to the President for Energy and Climate Change; Former Senator Tom Daschle, Health and Human Services Secretary-designate and Director-designate, White House Office on Health Reform; Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff-designate; Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary-designate; Ron Klain, Chief of Staff-designate, Vice President-elect; Peter Orszag, Director-designate, Office of Management and Budget; Christina Romer, Director-designate, Council of Economic Advisors and Lawrence Summers, Director-designate, National Economic Council.

WASHINGTON -- Roland Burris, being Roland Burris, put it to me this way Friday when we talked: "We are the senator."

And we, that is he, the former Illinois attorney general, told me that he will try to avoid making a scene when he comes to the Capitol on Tuesday to claim the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Burris is arriving in town Monday night.

"There is no confrontation here, there is no antagonism here," Burris said in a phone interview from Chicago. "And so we are proceeding very diplomatically, and we are proceeding with all concern about not creating any type of circus that will entertain the media."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) hits Gov. Blagojevich following the report of his conversations with him about filing the vacant Obama Senate seat. Reid statement below, followed by Chicago Sun-Times front page Sunday story on the Reid-Blagojevich call.


WASHINGTON, D.C.--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today in response to reports that Gov. Blagojevich has been leaking and distorting conversations about the process for filling Illinois' vacant Senate seat:

"Gov. Blagojevich appears to be trying to distract attention from his daunting legal problems and damaged credibility by distorting information about private phone calls between himself and other public officials. It is regrettable and reprehensible.

"Gov. Blagojevich's efforts to try to tarnish others while the cloud of suspicion continues to grow over him are shameful, as are his efforts to further betray the public trust and sow seeds of division. As each day passes it becomes increasingly clear that Gov. Blagojevich is not fit to lead, and he should resign.

"I will not allow his corruption charges or his antics to distract me from leading the Senate, to drive a wedge in our party or to obscure the facts."



Chicago Sun-Times

Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid made it clear who he didn't want in the post: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis or Emil Jones.

Rather, Reid called Blagojevich to argue he appoint either state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis -- both Democratic congressmen from Illinois -- and against Jones -- the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama -- because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.

WASHINGTON -- Roland Burris does not want to be in the face of the senators whose ranks he hopes to join, I am told. Yet Burris, appointed by the scandalized Gov. Blagojevich to replace President-elect Barack Obama, is expected here Monday. Burris' mere presence to try to claim the seat will, of course, be a spectacle.

He won't get into the chamber because the Senate Democratic leadership doesn't want anyone sent by Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell Obama's seat for a plum job or campaign cash.

Here's what I've learned New Years Day:

I think Burris is underestimating how hard the Senate Democratic leaders are resisting his appointment. No one doubts that Burris is eligible to serve. No one is going to challenge Blagojevich's power to make the appointment. But they won't make it easy

Burris, Blagojevich, Obama.

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Lynn Sweet

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

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Barack Obama category from January 2009.

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