“We are teaching our kids that in hard times, in tears, you’ve got to live in your hopes and not your fears,” he said.
After his wife retreated to the house, Blagojevich lingered on his porch steps, chatting with supporters, hugging children and bantering with reporters. At one point, the self-proclaimed Elvis Presley fan told supporters, “Jailhouse Rock is no longer my favorite song.”
Federal agents arrested the then-governor at his home on Dec. 9, 2008. When an FBI official called to tell Blagojevich agents were at his door to arrest him, he reportedly responded in disbelief, “Is this a joke?”
After his arrest, Blagojevich hit the talk-show circuit to declare his innocence and to rail against prosecutors, even appearing on Donald Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice.”
In the end, though, it did him little good. His first trial in 2011 ended with jurors deadlocked on all but one count. The next year, jurors were more decisive and convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts.
In Colorado, Blagojevich — whose penchant for expensive suits and lavish spending were outlined at his first trial — will have no luxuries. The prison complex is encircled by double, razor-wire fencing and is well-guarded. Inside, inmates must wake at dawn, work menial jobs and submit to head counts at all hours of the day.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Blagojevich told the crowd in Chicago. “But it is the law, and we follow the law, and I will begin to do that tomorrow.”
• Associated Press writers Tammy Webber and Karen Hawkins contributed to this report from Chicago.