Saying that it will be only a "very short" time until he has the opportunity to serve as the junior Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris added a new wrinkle into the evolving drama over his political fortunes Monday.
He has, apparently, the endorsement of former president Jimmy Carter.
"This morning, I had a great meeting with Majority Leader [Harry] Reid and Majority Whip [Dick] Durbin," Burris told reporters on Wednesday. " And in that meeting we discussed quite a few things. But I had an important phone call before I went to that meeting, and that phone call was from my friend, former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter."
As Burris tells it, Carter got on the phone and said, "When you are in the Senate, Roland, you will make a great senator."
The Georgia Democrat isn't the only one growing more optimistic about Burris' career. Earlier on Wednesday, Reid and Durbin met with controversial governor Rod Blagojevich's appointee and sounded a much more positive tone concerning his chances of taking over Barack Obama's seat. The two Democratic leaders said they would withhold judgment on the best course of action until the Illinois Secretary of State signs a certification of Burris' appointment and the Illinois House convenes impeachment hearings concerning Blagojevich.
Once that is settled, Burris said, "We will proceed then to submit our documentation to the Senate ... This will go to the rules committee, they will then assess it and let me know what the outcome is."
Asked whether he had assured Reid or Durbin that he would not run for reelection in 2010 -- a precondition that would satisfy Democratic concerns that Burris would be a poor candidate in a general election -- the former Illinois Attorney General said such talk had no factual bearing.
"This wasn't even on their radar screen, they hadn't even brought it up," he said.
As for whether he would run for reelection, Burris responded that such a decision was far from his mind.
"Let me get my Senate legs under me and get in and raise some money to pay for all this stuff," he said. "Get in and get settled and first learn where the bathrooms are."