On last day free, Blagojevich offers last word

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is surrounded by journalists outside of his home Wednesday, March 14, 2012, in Chicago. Blagojevich was convicted of 18 criminal counts over two trials, including charges that accused him of attempting to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat. The 55-year-old Democrat is due to report to a prison in Colorado on Thursday to begin serving a 14-year sentence, making him the second Illinois governor in a row to go to prison for corruption. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Updated 7:56 p.m. ET

(AP) CHICAGO - Prison-bound former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday he has faith in his appeal and that his legal saga "is not over."

Blagojevich spoke to crowds of reporters and well-wishers outside his Chicago home less than 24 hours before he's due to report to a Colorado prison to begin serving a 14-year sentence for corruption.

With his wife by his side, Blagojevich said preparing to leave for prison is "the hardest thing I've ever done" and insisted that he did what he thought was right for Illinois, both as governor and as a congressman.

Blagojevich was convicted of 18 criminal counts during two trials, including charges the tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.

"I am proud as I leave and enter the next part of what is a dark and hard journey that I can take with me ... the sense of accomplishment, and the real belief that the things that I did as governor, the things that I did as congressman, actually helped real, ordinary people," Blagojevich said, standing behind a microphone-packed podium set up in front of his home.

He added that he always believed what he was doing "was on the right side of the law."

More than 50 reporters crowded to hear the former governor as two television helicopters hovered overhead and a dozen TV trucks were parked along the street nearby. The former governor spoke for about 10 minutes after being greeted by chants of "free our governor."

Some neighbors were signing a banner hung over a railing on his house that read, "Thanks Mr. Governor. We Will Pray." As he made his way back inside his home, he signed autographs.

The 55-year-old father of two daughters is due to report to the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in suburban Denver on Thursday.

Prison authorities haven't confirmed where Blagojevich will be imprisoned. But he asked to go to the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in suburban Denver.

The spotlight-loving Blagojevich, known for colorful speeches and a habit of quoting historical figures, timed his departing statement to begin at precisely 5:02 p.m. so it could appear live on the evening news.

His publicist even gave a two-minute warning via Twitter so newscasts could be ready.

"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, adding that he believes his appeal would prevail. "And while my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America, this is a country that is governed by the rule of law.

"That the truth ultimately will prevail, that right makes might and that this, as bad as it is, is the beginning of another part of a long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better, but that this is not over."



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