Blagojevich Says He Thought of Oprah for Senate
Oprah Winfrey says she could be a senator, but isn't interested.
Jan. 26, 2009 — -- Illinois' beleaguered Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today that when he was deciding who would take President Obama's Senate seat he considered appointing talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, a suggestion that Winfrey says left her "amused."
Blagojevich made the revelation to Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America" on the day his impeachment trial began. That trial is expected to toss him out of office.
The governor said that Winfrey's name came up as a potential successor to Obama in the Senate.
Watch Gov. Blagojevich's Interview With ABC News' Cynthia McFadden On "Nightline" Tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET
"She seemed to be someone who had helped Barack Obama in a significant way to become president," Blagojevich said. Blagojevich added that "she had a much broader bully pulpit than a lot of senators."
His consideration of Winfrey was tempered, he suggested, by the fact that "she probably wouldn't take it, and then if you offered it to her, how would you do it in a way it wasn't a gimmick to embarrass her."
Later on ABC's "The View," he added that Winfrey was appealing because she was "an African-American woman who probably by herself has more influence than 100 senators."
One of his hesitations, he said, was "Would she take the call of the governor of Illinois because Oprah is Oprah and I'm only the governor of Illinois."
Blagojevich said his consideration of Winfrey was "interrupted on Dec. 9," the day he was arrested by the FBI.
Winfrey, who endorsed Obama's presidential bid and showcased his candidacy on her show, said she missed "GMA" this morning because she slept late.
"If I had been watching from the treadmill where I'm usually watching, I would have fallen off the treadmill," Winfrey told her friend Gayle King during the Sirius XM radio show "Oprah and Friends."
Winfrey said she was "pretty amused" by Blagojevich's revelation.
"I think I could be a senator, but I'm not interested," Winfrey said.
Blagojevich's appearance on "GMA" was part of the governor's media blitz on the day that his impeachment trial began in Springfield, Ill. -- without him. Blagojevich has already conceded that he will probably be convicted of corruption charges, but is refusing to resign or to attend the trial to defend himself.
Instead, he was scheduled to appear on ABC's "GMA," "The View," and "Nightline," NBC's the "Today" show, and CNN's "Larry King Live."
The governor insisted he was innocent but was boycotting his trial because he was not allowed to introduce witnesses like Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and the president's top adviser Valerie Jarrett.
"I'm talking to Americans to let them know what's happening in the land of Lincoln," Blagojevich said.
In his opening statement before the Senate, David Ellis, the lawyer for the Illinois House of Representatives bringing the charges, said the goal of the impeachment is to protect citizens from someone who has "repeatedly and utterly abused the powers of his office."
When asked whether he had tried to auction off Obama's Senate seat, Blagojevich said, "Absolutely not and I'll have a chance in a criminal case to show my innocence and bring witnesses."