It's time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.
This week, Rep. Cheri Bustos , D-Ill., speaks about her career as a journalist at the Quad-City Times and growing up in the Land of Lincoln among politicians right at her kitchen table. A lightly edited transcript follows.
Q: You earned a master’s degree in journalism and worked as an investigative reporter in Illinois. What was it like? A: I believe that every day, you could walk into the newsroom and you were in the position to make a difference. I’m a pretty competitive person. My goal every day was to make sure I was making a difference in the community but also to have the above-the-fold, banner story as many days as I possibly could.
Q: You grew up around politics. Your dad was a chief of staff to Sens. Paul Simon and Alan Dixon . What lessons did you pick up from being around politics at such an early age? A: Sitting around our kitchen table from a very early age on, we talked politics and we talked policy. Never once can I ever remember my dad saying, “Go away, this is an adult conversation.” I could sit around and listen to these guys as long as I wanted to listen to them.
Q: You recently spent Mother’s Day in Afghanistan. What was your biggest takeaway from it? The most moving part of it was to sit down with our American troops on Mother’s Day when they were away from their children. … If there’s something that has meant a lot to me during my short time here in Washington, it is getting to know a lot of veterans and those who serve to a level that I have a deeper understanding of the sacrifices they’ve given for the country and what their families have given.
Q: You were MVP of the 2013 Congressional Softball Game. How do you keep in shape? A: I get up at 4:30 a.m. pretty much every morning during the week. I work out for an hour and a half. I do weights and I ride the bike, I run or I play tennis. It’s my release.
Q: You’re finishing your first term in Congress. What advice could you give to incoming freshmen? A: Have great people around you because this is very much a team effort. If there’s any success that I’ve had, it is a direct reflection of the people I work with. We have a very smart team and an extremely hardworking team, both here in Washington and back in Illinois. We all understand why we’re here.