WASHINGTON — Dick Durbin, Illinois' senior senator and the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, summoned embattled Sen. Roland Burris to his office Tuesday to advise him to leave as other members of the clubby institution offered the junior senator a polite but chilly reception.
"I told him that under the circumstances, I would consider resigning if I were in his shoes," Durbin told reporters after an hourlong meeting with Burris, also an Illinois Democrat. "He said he would not resign, and that was his conclusion."
"I've made my recommendation to Senator Burris," Durbin added, later explaining, "I can't force him out."
Burris tried to duck an awaiting swarm of reporters by leaving Durbin's office through a side door but was cornered at an elevator bank, ignoring questions while he waited for the doors to open.
He said he was "under orders not to say anything." When pressed, Burris said the instructions came from his attorneys.
Returning to the Capitol for the first time since he changed his story about his appointment to the Senate and acknowledged that he tried to raise money for impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich while seeking the seat, Burris received few signs of support from his fellow members.
While the Senate has been in recess for its weeklong President's Day break, a lengthening list of public officials from Burris' home state have called for his resignation, including Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and several members of the state's congressional delegation.
On the Senate floor, fellow senators shook his hand as they encountered him, but few walked up to greet him.
He spent most of a 15-minute vote standing by himself at a desk, apart from the throng of senators milling about in the well of the chamber catching up after the break.
In a sign that Burris may not be planning to exit the scene soon, longtime media adviser Delmarie Cobb announced she has gone to work for him and said in a news release her work for Burris involves "his fight to keep the Illinois Senate seat."