In the Politico story (mentioned below) that introduces what might be called the Whitewater Effect, Martin and Smith bring up Gov. Blago's 2002 gubernatorial campaign:
Meanwhile, the [Blago] case is likely to turn reporters into students of Illinois political history just as the Clinton presidency produced a generation of reporters and opposition researchers obsessed with turning over the rocks of Arkansas politics.
In 2002, when Blagojevich left the U.S. House (opening up a seat for Emanuel), Obama joined other black Chicago Democrats – including his one-time rival Bobby Rush and state Senate mentor Emil Jones –in supporting Roland Burris, an African-American former Illinois Comptroller and state Attorney General.
In a further effort to put distance between Obama and the governor, Obama allies are preemptively noting that incoming Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s claim this summer in a New Yorker article that he and Obama were “the top strategists of Blagojevich's victory” in 2002 was inaccurate.
In a subsequent article in the Springfield political publication Capitol Fax this summer, now being circulated by Obama allies, Emanuel walked back his assertion.
"David [Wilhelm] and I have worked together on campaigns for decades,” Emanuel said, referring to the Democratic operative who was a top adviser to Blagojevich in 2002 and strongly denied that Obama had been involved in that race. “Like always, he's right and I'm wrong."
OK. In 2002, Blago vacates the House seat that would be won by Emmanuel. Check.
Emmanuel, having crowed over his and Obama being “the top strategists of Blagojevich's victory” in 2002 this past summer, "walked back his assertion" about Obama's involvement in Blago's campaign, Politico notes, in a subsequent article that appeared in a Springfield, Illinois publication called Capitol Fax. (No correction appeared in The New Yorker, apparently.) Check.
Going back to the Tapper piece (also mentioned below), we learn also that Obama joined the 2002 Blago band wagon after Blago won the Democratic primary--and, apparently, quite enthusiastically:
Tapper reports on a 2002 TV interview with Jeff Berkowitz in which Obama says that:
“Right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we…”
“You working hard for Rod?” interrupted Berkowitz.
“You betcha,” said Obama.
“Hot Rod?” asked the host.
“That’s exactly right,” Obama said.
Working hard for Hot Rod may or may not not qualify as being a top strategist, but it doesn't exactly "put distance between Obama and the governor."