Page last updated at 18:32 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Oprah 'considered for Obama seat'


Rod Blagojevich on ABC's Good Morning America

Scandal-hit US Governor Rod Blagojevich has said he considered offering the Illinois senate seat vacated by Barack Obama to talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

An impeachment trial currently is under way in the state senate over claims Mr Blagojevich tried to "sell" the seat.

He told ABC that Ms Winfrey, one of America's wealthiest women, would have been unlikely to accept.

Mr Blagojevich says he is innocent and that the trial, which he is not attending, has been rigged.

The trial opened in Springfield on Monday, with Illinois Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald telling senators, they were about to engage in "a solemn and serious business," the Chicago Tribune reported.

Earlier, Mr Blagojevich told ABC's Good Morning America that Ms Winfrey "seemed to be someone who would help Barack Obama in a significant way become president".

"She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators," he said.

US talk show host Oprah Winfrey in California (05/12/2008)
If I had been watching as I normally watch from the treadmill, I probably would have fallen off
Oprah Winfrey

But he said Ms Winfrey "probably wouldn't take it" and that it would have been hard to offer the seat to her in a way that "didn't look like it was some gimmick and embarrass her".

Ms Winfrey has said she did not know that she was being considered as a potential senator and that she was "pretty amused by the whole thing".

"If I had been watching as I normally watch from the treadmill, I probably would have fallen off," she told the Sirius XM radio station.

Ms Winfrey said she thought she could be a senator but that she was "just not interested".

Mr Blagojevich's eventual choice for the seat, Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, took office in January after initially being blocked by senators.

Under the 17th amendment of the US constitution, state governors have the power to appoint temporary replacements for senators who resign, die or are expelled, until special elections can be held.

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