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Dec 11

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:55 AM Prez-elect Obama's first post-Blago press conference?

Pathetically--especially considering the cheat sheet provided below.

Here is the relevant stretch of transcript:

MR. OBAMA: OK, with that, let me open it up to some questions. Let me start with Jackie, Jackie Calmes (ph).

QUESTION: Senator -- President-elect...


(And magnanimous, too!)

QUESTION: ... given the -- in your statement, when you addressed the controversy over Governor Blagojevich, you did not repeat what your spokesman said yesterday about having him -- that he should resign. Why did you not?

(This is the FIRST question out of the box. Oh, brother.)

QUESTION: And could you tell us what contact, if any, you know that your staff or any emissaries from you have had with prosecutors or the FBI?

MR. OBAMA: Well, let me repeat a couple of things.

Number one, I think, like most of the people of Illinois, I was appalled and disappointed by what we heard in those transcripts. And, you know, here in Illinois -- as is true, I think, across the country -- there is a tradition of public service blah blah blah I hope that the governor himself comes to the conclusion that he can no longer effectively serve and that he does resign.

In terms of our involvement, I'll repeat what I said earlier, which is I had no contact with the governor's office. I did not speak to the governor about these issues. That I know for certain.

(Of course, the question was nothing so crude as to ask whether Obama and staff had had contact with Blago--it was about contact with the FBI!)

MR. OBAMA:What I want to do is to gather all the facts about any staff contacts that I might -- may have -- that may have taken place between the transition office and the governor's office. And we'll have those in the next few days, and we'll present them.

But what I'm absolutely certain about is that our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my Senate seat. That I'm absolutely certain of.

And the -- that is -- that would be a violation of everything that this campaign has been about. And that's not how we do business.

So, you know, I think that, like the rest of the people of Illinois, what I want to see is a quick resolution of this issue. I want to make sure that the next senator from the state of Illinois is carrying a forward tradition of service, that the next senator from Illinois is not tainted by what has taken place so far.

I want to make sure that the next senator of Illinois is focused on health care, jobs, and all the struggles that the families of this state are going through.

Phil Elliott, A.P.?

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. Thank you. Have you or anyone in your transition or campaign been interviewed as it relates to the criminal complaint? And who is the transition adviser referenced in the complaint?

MR. OBAMA: I have not been contacted by any federal officials. And we have not been interviewed by them. As is reflected in the U.S. attorney's report, we were not, I think, perceived by the governor's office as amenable to any deal-making. And, you know, I won't quote back some of the things that were said about me. So -- this is a family program, I know.

So, you know -- so, beyond that, I'm not really certain where the investigation is going forward. I'll leave Mr. Fitzgerald to address those issues. OK, Mike Flannery, CBS.

(Notice he didn't identify the transition official  referenced in the complaint. The next reporter doesn't care.)

QUESTION: Mr. President-elect, can you shed any light on how it was that the governor got the impression that neither you nor Ms. Jarrett nor any of the people from your office were willing to play ball and why he said those unrepeatable things about you and your -- and your staff?

And a two-partner. We have the former -- the immediate former governor still moldering in the federal prison here in Terra Haute. What's wrong with politics in Illinois?

(Mistake: Obama will run with the second question--an amorphous essay question--and skip over the first nitty gritty question.)

MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I can't presume to know what was in the mind of the governor during this process, so I won't even speculate on that. All I can do is read what was in the transcripts, like the rest of you have read it, and shake my head.

Now, with respect to Illinois, look, as I said, I think in Illinois, as is true in American politics generally, there are two views of politics blah blah blah Paul Simon, and Paul Douglas, our current senator, Dick Durbin, our senior senator, blah blah blah the highest standards of ethics blah blah enormous blah blah sacrifices blah blah the people of Illinois blah blah lobbyists blah narrow political calculations. And our whole campaign was about changing that view of politics and restoring a sense that when people of good will come together and are serious about confronting the challenges that we face blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Last question. Let's see. Debbie Charles of Reuter?


QUESTION: I want to ask you how are you actually planning to fund your health care program. I know that it has been estimated that it could cost (inaudible) billion dollars. And you had planned, originally, to fund it through getting rid of the tax cuts for the wealthy, but that, apparently, in the current economic situation maybe that's not so reasonable.

Are you still planning to do that? Or how will you fund it?

MR. OBAMA: Well, let me start by talking about the issue of costs because central to my health care plan during the campaign, the starting point was how to we reduce costs..


OK, thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

Appreciate what? The sprinkling of violet water and rose petals? 


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