Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, giving his first public statement since being arrested last week on charges he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, declared his innocence and defiantly turned back calls for him to resign.
The governor said he has not done anything wrong. "I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing," he said.
"I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath," he added.
Click the player below to watch the governor make the statement. The full text is below (or after the jump).
Here's the text of his remarks:
I'm here to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, that I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way. I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath.
I have done nothing wrong. And I'm not going to quit a job that people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob.
Now that's what I'm going to do. Let me tell you what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to do what my accusers and political enemies have been doing, and that is to talk about this case in 30-second sound bites on "Meet the Press" or on the TV news.
Now I'm dying to answer these charges. I am dying to show you how innocent I am. And I want to assure everyone who's here and everyone who's listening that I intend to answer every allegation that comes my way. However, I intend to answer them in the appropriate forum, in a court of law. And when I do I am absolutely certain that I will be vindicated.
Rudyard Kipling wrote, 'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting too, if you can wait and not be tired by waiting or being lied about, don't deal in lies, or being hated, don't give way to hating.'
Now I know there are some powerful forces arrayed against me. It's kind of lonely right now. But I have on my side the most powerful ally there is, and it's the truth. And besides, I have the personal knowledge that I have not done anything wrong.
To the people of Illinois, I ask that they wait and be patient, sit back and take a deep breath and please reserve judgment. Afford me the same rights that you and your children have: the presumption of innocence, the right to defend yourself, the right to your day in court the same rights that you would expect for yourselves.
And one last thing: To those of you who have expressed your support to Patti and me during this difficult time, I'd like to thank you for your thoughts, I'd like to thank you for your prayers and I would like to thank you for your good wishes. Patti and I cannot express to you how grateful we are for your kindness.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays.