Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Charlie Crist

Republican-turned-Democrat has never looked at politics as right vs. left

Florida Rep. Charlie Crist wears a bracelet that says “Love the golden rule.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Freshman Rep. Charlie Crist, 60, a Florida Democrat, talks about his boat and what he learned from being Florida governor and attorney general.

Q: What have you learned about Congress so far?

A: It impresses me very much. Obviously, the House, in particular, because that’s where I am, but the institution is something that I have come to admire and respect. I know most of America really doesn’t and that’s unfortunate. But when you have the opportunity to serve here, you really get to know your colleagues and, in particular, my fellow freshmen. They’re great people, Republican, Democrat, it doesn’t matter. We’re all Americans and I think the important thing that we ought to be focused on around here is that point — that we are all Americans and we need to work together for a better country and a better future for our people. And so I learned that, just by being here and breaking bread with my colleagues and being able to socialize with them and watch basketball games with them during March Madness.

It’s been a great experience and the sheer history of it alone is awe-inspiring to me. I mean, to think about the fact that you’re walking the same halls that Abraham Lincoln or Adams or, I mean the list goes on and on. It’s very humbling to think about that.

[Take Five: Adriano Espaillat]

Q: What is the name of your boat?

A: I’ve got an Open Fisherman boat. Little boat. It’s called the Golden Rule. Somebody gave me [this bracelet] during this recent campaign. It says, “Love the Golden Rule.” I named my boat “Freedom” when I first got it, 12 years ago, because I love freedom, who doesn’t? But lately, I think with what’s happening in our country politically particularly, I think it’s good to be reminded of the simple rules that are really important and the golden rule to me is extremely important.

Crist says he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Crist says he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Q: What did you learn as governor of Florida that will help you in Congress?

A: I think a lot. Having been the chief executive of now the third-largest state in the country is a great experience to be given an opportunity to understand what a chief executive is thinking about and the kinds of concerns he or she might have as it relates to the legislative branch. That’s very helpful. I think having been a legislator … as a state senator, representing Tampa Bay, it gave me an appreciation … for the separation of powers and the importance of that kind of check and balance system that the founders established and I’m very appreciative of that now, more than ever, given where we are and what we’re dealing with as a nation.

[Take Five: Drew Ferguson]

Q: What other background in politics will you feed from in Congress?

A: Attorney general gives you a keen sense of justice and right and wrong. I have never really looked at politics as right versus left so much. I really look at the world in terms of right versus wrong. And usually, if you do that, it’s a lot easier to do the right thing because if you look at things through that prism, the North Star being your guidepost as to good and right rather than political perspective, I think you do better.

[Take Five: Al Lawson]

Q: What do you do to wind down in D.C.?

A: I swim, every day. It’s been great. That’s my thing in the morning. I get up at 4:30 and lift for about 20 minutes and swim laps for about 20 minutes. It’s a de-stresser. I guess it’s like what yoga might be for some. It gives me a chance to think clearly, clear my head.

[Take Five: Pramila Jayapal]

Quick HitsLast book you read: The Bible

Last movie you saw: “42”

Favorite song of all time: “Don’t Stop Believing”

Role model: My father

Closest to in Congress: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, he’s a fellow Pennsylvanian and he’s a Republican who’s got a great attitude. I love John McCain. I know he’s a great American hero.

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