CHICAGO, March 14 (UPI) -- Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday, the day before going to prison to serve time for corruption, he still doesn't think he broke the law.
At a final news conference before heading to a federal lockup in Colorado, Blagojevich told reporters and supporters he "certainly made my share of mistakes" and takes responsibility for the things he talked about doing, but believes he had acted "on the right side of the law."
"The decision went against me. I accept that decision, as hard as it is," he said. "I have to go do what I have to do. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
The decision was made by a jury that convicted him last year of 17 counts related to his attempts to parlay his power to appoint someone to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama into personal gain.
Blagojevich, dressed in a black jacket and blue-and-white checked shirt, with his wife Patti by his side, shook hands with members of the crowd that greeted him enthusiastically and interrupted his speech several times with cheers. There were signs urging people to implore Obama to grant him clemency.
Comments such as "He got cheated," "He always looked out for the neighborhood" and "He never should have got this sentence" were characteristic of the feelings expressed to WBBM-AM, Chicago.
Blagojevich, 55, who also served in Congress, was convicted last June and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Blagojevich thanked his wife and those who have supported him through "what has been a very long, hard three years."
He said he and his family "are grateful from the bottom of our hearts" and "will never forget your kindness."
He said he was honored to have served as governor and in the U.S. House and said he always tried to help "real, ordinary people."
He cited healthcare programs he pushed for children and struggling families, free rides for seniors, holding down taxes on average families and taking on special interests as high on his list of accomplishments.
One thing, he said, he could have been was "maybe a little bit more humble."
He called his situation a "calamity" for his family and there have been "times when I just wanted to give up," but that others have suffered worse and that he keeps going because you are supposed to "bear your crosses."
"It's very easy to focus on the negative when you are living it all the time," he said. "It's hard for me to say I'm going to prison. That's a hard word for me to say. but it is the reality ... .
"I'll see you around."