If there was pay for play--and who knows?--maybe it was pay the people of Illinois for play.
"And, in addition to that, just playing devil’s advocate, I’m not acknowledging that’s what actually were on the tapes, ‘cause we haven’t had a chance to hear it. But playing the devil’s advocate in assuming it was. Why can’t the construction of that be I want them to help me pass a public works program, a jobs program, that the Democratic speaker, Mr. Madigan, has been blocking."
This seems to be the heart of his strategy: to blur what he did [if he did anything, he has to check the tapes of himself] into what it is that politicians do every day [if that's not what he was doing, which maybe he was, hypothetically speaking].
On the other hand, the repetition of playing the devil's advocate couldn't help but jump out at me.