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Blagojevich Names Burris to Fill Obama's Vacant Senate Seat

CQ Transcripts Wire
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 3:18 PM

GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (ILL.): The people of Illinois are entitled to have two United States senators represent them in Washington, D.C.

As governor, I am required to make this appointment. If I don't make this appointment, then the people of Illinois will be deprived of their appropriate voice and vote in the United States Senate.

Therefore, I am here to announce my intention to appoint an individual who has unquestioned integrity, extensive experience, and is a wise and distinguished senior statesman of Illinois. This man actually once was an opponent of mine for governor.

(LAUGHTER)

So I'm here today to announce that I am appointing Roland Burris as the next United States senator from the Illinois.

Roland Burris is no stranger to the people of our state. Between 1979 and 1992 he served the people of Illinois as the state's comptroller and the state's attorney general. He has had a long and distinguished career serving the people of Illinois. He will be a great United States senator.

And now I'd like to ask everyone to do one last thing. Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man.

Ladies and gentlemen, Roland Burris.

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL ROLAND BURRIS: I will have a brief formal statement, and I will respond to a few questions.

Thank you, Governor.

As a nation, we face a convergence of unparalleled crises. Our nation is locked in an economic crisis not felt since the Great Depression three-quarters of a century ago.

Our nation stared down the triple-barreled threat of war in the Middle East, festering conflict in Iraq, and continued threats of terrorist breeding grounds in Afghanistan.

As the greatest nation in the history of the world, the United States is confronted with a crisis of faith in our own leadership capability and in our ability to bring understanding to nations who look to us for peace and prosperity.

And the people of our great nation have told us, in no uncertain terms, that we are at a crossroads of confidence in our ability to return the ideals that make the United States the greatest nation in the world.

Faced with these challenges, and challenged with these crises, it is incomprehensible that the the people of the great state of Illinois will enter the 111th Congress short-handed.

To fight a choking recession and return our economy to a level of vitality and strength, we need leadership in Washington. Illinois is blessed to have an intelligent and dedicated congressional caucus led by our senior United States senator Dick Durbin.

Moreover, President-elect Barack Obama has (inaudible) and ready to hit the ground running on January 20th. If ever there is a man with the talent to succeed against the long odds, it is he.

I welcome the challenges that await us in the 111th Congress, I have faith in the record that I have forged over the past four decades, and I am proud of my accomplishments as a public servant.

I accept this appointment to fill the unexpired term of President-elect Barack Obama. I ask the people of Illinois to place the same faith and trust in me that they have in the past when they elected me three times as their state controller, and one term as their attorney general.

I am humbled to have the opportunity, and promise the citizens that I will dedicate my utmost effort as their United States senator, and I will uphold the integrity of the office and ask for their continued confidence in me.

Thank you all very much, and I will respond to a few questions.

QUESTION: Why do you believe -- why do you believe that your appointment will not be tainted by the prevalent charges that are now hanging over the governor?

BURRIS: This is an appointment done by the governor of the state. And based on that, I have no relationship with that situation. I'm accepting an appointment by the governor to go to the United States Senate.

That's it.

QUESTION: The House -- the Senate Democratic leadership (inaudible) they won't (inaudible) -- won't certify the appointment. Why do you think they'll ever (inaudible)?

BURRIS: That's the process that we must look forward to, and this is one process, I'm honored, that I have been appointed. And we will deal with the next step in the process.

QUESTION: How long have you been in discussions about this Senate seat? Was it before or after the charges came down?

BURRIS: Well, I had talked with the governor on Sunday night, when he asked if he were to appoint me, would I accept, and my answer was yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Burris, up until now, virtually every elected official in the state of Illinois has weighed in on the problems of the last few weeks. Do you believe Governor Blagojevich should continue in office, or would you feel that he should resign?

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