From NBC's Savannah Guthrie, Marcie Rickun and Carrie Dann
When Roland Burris ran against Rod Blagojevich for governor in 2002, the former state attorney general had the support of none other than current President-elect Barack Obama.
The Washington Post, Dec. 12, 2008: "Obama and Blagojevich rarely interacted until Blagojevich ran for governor. Obama told his friends in Springfield that he was unimpressed by Blagojevich's resume, and he tried to lobby his friend Durbin to enter the race before deciding to support Roland Burris in the Democratic primary.
" 'When Blagojevich beat me, I told Barack to get on board with him,' Burris said. 'It was kind of like swallowing his pride a little bit, because he didn't really see that they had anything in common.'"
Obama also attended when Burris announced his candidacy for governor in 2001.
The Chicago Tribune, Sept. 24, 2001: "Burris finished a strong second in the four-way gubernatorial primary in 1998, and his base of support among African-Americans may be even more significant in a race likely to feature half-dozen candidates. Later in the day, Burris announced his candidacy on the porch of his South Side Chicago home, where about 250 supporters crowded underneath tents in his yard under a gray sky and steady rain.
"His campaign co-chairmen, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) cheered Burris. State Sens. Barak Obama, Donne Trotter and Ricky Hendon, and state Rep. Calvin Giles--all Democrats from Chicago--also attended."
At the time, Burris saw potential in his ally Obama, but didn't quite predict his metoric rise. After his defeat in 2002, he told the historically black newspaper the Chicago Defender that he aspired to "be out there to find someone to put in the pipeline like Barack Obama who might be able to 20 years from now get into a position to become governor."
In the same interview, Burris defended his repeated defeats in his runs for statewide office, partially pointing blame at racism for his defeat in the primary election for governor.
"It's how the party apparatus operates when they get their voters out," Burris said. "If I ever get to a general election, it wouldn't be that way. Some of it could be race in the primary, but it's not race in the general election. If I ever get out of the primary, I could really have a shot at it in the general election. I see that as a control vote situation where Blagojevich had the troops and the dollars and was able to get enough people to the polls."