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Obama Moves Transition Ahead, as Political Crisis Continues in his Home State


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is moving his White House transition forward, as political turmoil builds over the selection of his successor in the United States Senate. The governor of the state of Illinois stands accused of trying to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder. There are efforts to convince Governor Rod Blagojevich to resign.

President-elect Obama has called on the governor to step down, as have other prominent people in the state. Governor Blagojevich has resisted. But the top lawyer in Illinois, State Attorney General Lisa Madigan, says the governor may be rethinking his position.

"I don't know if that means he will resign or take another option that is provided under the Illinois Constitution where he can voluntarily recognize that there is a serious impediment to his ability to carry out his duties and therefore temporarily remove himself," said Lisa Madigan.

Blagojevich has not been formally indicted. But Madigan told NBC's Meet the Press program that the allegations of corruption put forward by government investigators are severely damaging.

"There is also the serious concern that everything he does from here on out is going to be tainted, is going to be illegitimate," she said. "So, we think it is absolutely obvious that he is incapable of governing and the best thing to do is move aside."

Appearing on the same broadcast, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn described Blagojevich as a man who became increasingly isolated during his time in office.

"The last time I spoke to him was in August of 2007," said Pat Quinn. "I think one of the problems is the governor did sort of seal himself off from all the statewide officials - [including] Attorney General Madigan and myself and many others - and that is no way to govern."

The scandal surrounding the governor and the vacant Senate seat could be a major distraction for Mr. Obama, as he prepares to assume power in Washington.

The president-elect has remained in Illinois throughout most of the transition period, sharing headlines in recent days with news stories about the governor.

Mr. Obama has been trying to keep the focus on his Cabinet nominees and his plans for the future. He has found what some would call an unlikely supporter in his former rival for the presidency, Senator John McCain.

The Arizona Republican says Barack Obama is putting together a very strong Cabinet to tackle the tough issues facing the country.

"It tells me that the president-elect is going to address national security issues with people the American people can trust, and that he can place trust and confidence in," said Senator McCain.

McCain appeared on ABC's This Week.

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