WITH AUDIO: Kwame Kilpatrick faces reporters, says no questions are off-limits

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick took questions Thursday night from Detroit reporters for the first time since his 2010 indictment.  7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogged the event from Downtown Detroit . Follow his coverage below:

8:15PM--The End:  Give him credit, Kilpatrick answered every question he was asked.  Whether he answered with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?  Well, that's for you to decide. 

We thank you for joining us here at WXYZ.com.  My colleagues Scott Lewis, Heather Catallo, Bill Proctor, Ann Mullen and I will continue to offer the most comprehensive coverage of Kilpatrick's eight-years-in-the-making corruption trial, set to begin September 6. 

8:06PM--Political animal no more: Saying he grew up knowing he wanted to be a politician, Kilpatrick said he can't stomach the idea of returning to the business.

Kilpatrick said he's been asked to appear on political television shows and consult for campaigns since leaving jail, but has turned the offers down.  He won't even talk to friends or neighbors about the presidential election, he says.

"This has forced me to change in a way that I never thought I could," he said. 

8:03PM--Enter the stripper: It took 93 minutes, but we did get a question about Tamara Greene, the woman alleged to have danced at the rumored, but never proven, party at the Manoogian Mansion. 

Did he ever meet her?  Was he ever in the same room as her? 

"No," Kilpatrick said emphatically. 

7:55PM--Praise for Duggan : Mike Duggan might not like to hear this, but it sounds like Kwame Kilpatrick just gave him his first endorsement for mayor.

Kilpatrick heaped praise on the head of the Detroit Medical Center who's rumored to be considering a run for the mayor's office.  Kilpatrick said he has an unbelievable set of skills, mentioning his ability to cut deficits, negotiate with unions and weather an FBI probe into Wayne County while he was the second in charge.

No, really, he said that last part. .

7:45PM--Not a TV guy: Kilpatrick said he barred video recording from tonight's event because television cameras can catch people while they're not, uh, in the best light.

"You'd say I was slouching," the former mayor said, while he was, well, kind of slouching.  Take my word for it.  

"By the time you're done, I look like Shrek." 

7:33PM--"I don't watch the news:" Kilpatrick told a skeptical crowd that he doesn't watch the news or read newspapers.

"I laughed," he said when he finally did read some of the recent coverage of his criminal predicament.

For what it's worth, it's hard to believe the mayor when he says he avoids Detroit media coverage.  This reporter in particular has engaged in Twitter discussions with the former mayor where he took issue with some of 7 Action News' coverage of his criminal trial. 

7:27PM--Travesty of justice: The former mayor says the federal charges against him are "a classic federal shotgun case" thrown together sloppily to target as many people as possible in his administration. 

Noting that there is indeed corruption in Detroit, he said none of it came from his office at the City County Building.  Even so, he said there's no way he'll receive a fair trial.

"I'd be better if they just hang me from that big fist downtown," Kilpatrick said. 

7:20PM--Classic Kilpatrick:  He promised a comeback when he left office, and Kilpatrick is reminding reporters why he just might have a chance at seeing it through.

Responding to a question about how to fix the city's budget deficit, Kilpatrick sounds more like a candidate on the stump than a convicted felon forced out of office.  Talking about union benefits, savings from a second bridge to Canada and more, he waxed poetic about the city's myriad problems, but took little responsibility for any of them.

As he has before, he said he deserves more credit than he receives for trash being picked up, grass being cut, and big events downtown going off without a hitch.

7:13PM--"Such a plantation question:" Kilpatrick was fuming when he read a newspaper headline that read: "Is it time for a white mayor in Detroit?"

He called the headline a "plantation question" that was offensive to African-Americans and Latinos. 

"I was in prison with some white people, you don't want them to be mayor," he said.

7:06PM--Prison?  What prison? Kilpatrick told tonight's audience that he's not even considered what would happen if he's found guilty in his federal corruption probe.  He's not worried, he said, because he's done nothing wrong.

"I haven't stole a dime in my entire life," he said. 

"I'm not even charged with that."

Well, technically.  But he is charged with extortion, bribery and racketeering.

7:03PM--Show me the money: In the night's first hardball question, a reporter asked Kilpatrick just how he's supporting himself and his family.

He said he primarily gives speeches, recently giving one at Bishop TD Jakes' mega-church in Texas.  He said he's not making much money though.

"I'm not there yet," he said laughing. 

6:58PM--Christine's gone: Facing a question about his former lover and chief of staff Christine Beatty, Kilpatrick remarked at how silly it is that people are still talking about her.

"It's been four years," he said. 

"She's been gone for almost five." 

He said his former aide was one of the city's finest, and handled her exit with class. 

Reporters are now allowed to ask Kilpatrick their own questions.

6:52PM--Costing Mom her job: Kilpatrick acknowledged that his antics cost his mom her job in the US Congress.  He said he learned of her defeat while laying in a prison cell.  He blamed reporters for lumping her in with his controversies.

"Kill me," he said, but reporters should not have "gone after" his mother.

"I may have given you all the rope, but you didn't have to exercise the right to hang my mom," he said.

6:48PM--Bashing Bing: Kilpatrick has spent several minutes saying that Detroiters just don't relate to Dave Bing, saying he doesn't give residents a feeling of ownership."

Voters don't feel like he's "ours," Kilpatrick said, noting that he often went to crime scenes when he was mayor, but Dave Bing never does. 

He called Bing "disconnected" from the citizens.

6:37PM--"I don't live in the past anymore:" Kilpatrick says that reporters have "frozen him in time," remembering only Kilpatrick from his tumultuous final few months as mayor when his administration was awash in controversy.  It's time for people to move on, he said, as he has. 

6:30PM--Right on time: Kwame Kilpatrick isn't known for being punctual, but tonight he walked in to the Hotel St. Regis right on schedule.  He heard scant applause from about half the crowd of around 50 reporters.  Sporting a grey suit, pink shirt and purple tie, Kilpatrick has already told reporters he won't answer all their questions, but promises to answer "99%." 

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Kwame Kilpatrick has used back doors, decoys and even belly punches to avoid reporters.  Tonight, he's invited dozens of them them to a posh Detroit hotel, promising to answer any question they ask.

The event, put on by the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, is being held at the Hotel St. Regis in Detroit's New Center.

Kilpatrick is set to arrive at 6:30PM and speak for approximately 15 minutes.  WWJ-AM's VIcki Thomas, the NABJ president, will engage the former mayor in 15 minutes of questions.  After that, reporters in attendance are allowed to ask questions.  Kilpatrick says nothing is off-limits.

The former mayor has been a man of few words lately, saying virtually nothing to reporters on his way in and out of court hearings.  His federal corruption trial is set to begin on September 6. 

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