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Take Five: Rep. Bruce Westerman

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

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. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., talks about good Southern cooking and all things Arkansas. Q: You were an engineer and also have a master's degree in forestry from Yale. Do you have a favorite National Park? A: Absolutely. Hot Springs National Park — that’s where I’m from.  

Follow up: What do you like about it? A: That’s where I was born and raised, and I still live there. We’ve got natural hot water. And we claim we were the first national park. I think Yellowstone would contest that, but we were actually the first place that had land set aside that became a national park. There’s a lot of very interesting facts about Hot Springs that people don’t know. The first major league spring baseball practices were in Hot Springs — Babe Ruth and all those guys came there. There’s actually a historical baseball trail that they established in Hot Springs.  

Q: Do you have a favorite food that you like to eat back home? A: Any food back home. Southern food is second to none. My wife is a very good cook. I joke that when I’m up here, I don’t have a lot of time to eat. I’m on the go and I’m working out and not eating when I’m up here, so I’ll lose five pounds. When I go home, she’ll try and put it all on me all in one weekend [laughs]. We have fresh green beans and potatoes and squash and onions out of our garden with cornbread. That’s pretty hard to beat. If you’ve never had it right out of the garden, you don’t know how good it really is.  

Q: Before Yale, you played football at the University of Arkansas. Do you still play sports now? A: Well, I was on the team for four years [laughs]. I exercise a lot. Throw the football with my kids in the backyard, play basketball with them. Some people say fishing is a sport — I still do that. I like to run some, and try to stay as healthy as possible.  

Q: You're a lifelong resident of Arkansas. Do you have a favorite childhood memory? I had a great childhood. The whole thing is a good memory. I’ve got two brothers. I’m the middle child. The home where we lived — where my mom and dad still live — the closest piece of pavement to where I lived was five miles away until I was a senior in high school. We lived way out in the country. We just had a great time. I always dreamed of playing football for the [University of Arkansas] Razorbacks and I got to do that. I was very involved in school. There was an organization called the Future Farmers of America, they just call it the FFA now — my brothers and I were all very active in that. We got to do a lot of neat things by participating in that organization. My older brother was the state vice president. I was the state president. My younger brother was the state president. My introduction to Washington, D.C., was through that program.  

Q: Do you enjoy traveling? Where is your favorite place to go? A: I’m really a homebody. I like to go places and see things. I remember one year I got to the top tier of frequent flyer miles because I was doing work in Europe. And I remember the last thing I wanted to do was get on another airplane and stay in another hotel. It's fun to look back on those experiences, but Hot Springs, Ark., is a great place. All the things I like to do, I can do them within 30 minutes of my house.  

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