Politics

Take Five: Sen. Benjamin Cardin

Cardin takes out his phone to check how many steps he's taken. (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, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., talks about the Berlin Wall, Maryland crabs and tracking his steps. Q : You have degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and University of Maryland. Which do you support when it comes to college basketball?  

A : Fear the turtle. I mean, a panther versus a turtle? Come on now. The turtle’s going to win every time. That’s not close, but I do root for the panthers when they’re playing any school other than one in Maryland.  

Q : You’re ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. What is your most interesting or strange travel story?  

A : I was in Berlin before the wall came down, saw a divided city, went through Checkpoint Charlie, from west to east, harassed by the guards. I returned to help knock down the wall, actually took a hammer and actually helped knock down the wall. And then I’ve returned since and seen the unified city. I think that’s probably the most remarkable experience, just to see the change in my lifetime of a divided country into a unified country.  

In this 1989 photo, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and his wife, Myrna Edelman Cardin, help knock down the Berlin wall, in Berlin, Germany, photographed during an interview in his office on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

In this 1989 picture, photographed during our Take Five interview, Cardin and his wife, Myrna Edelman Cardin, help knock down the Berlin wall. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Q :  I hear you're an avid hiker. Where do you like to hike?  

A : I hike whenever I can; I do mostly locally at the C&O Canal, one of my favorite spots. I’ve been to 10 different spots on the C&O, maybe more than that, hiking different parts of it over time. It’s beautiful and you feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere when you’re only 10 miles away from the urban center. My wife and I do downtown Baltimore almost every weekend; we take a different part of the city. You can walk about 20, 25 miles.  

Q : Maryland Crabs or Maryland Oysters?  

A : They didn’t tell you I keep Kosher? [Laughter ] Actually, it’s true, I do keep Kosher at home but I’m not observant. I eat oysters, crabs. I would take the crabs, the crabs are unique. Maryland oysters are good, but there are good oysters in other parts of the world. There are no other good crabs. Only Maryland crabs are good crabs. We’re the only people who know how to make good crabs. And I could go all over the country and they try to sell me Maryland crab cakes and they are inedible. So, it’s only Maryland. And of course, you take that with one of our micro-breweries, Heavy Seas or Flying Dog, or one of those. Always broiled, never fried, and never use tartar sauce.  

Q : You’re often seen walking alongside the Senate trains. Do you track your steps?  

A : I have an App on my iPhone; I try to do 10,000 a day. Sometimes I do a lot more. I just checked, over the last year with my iPhone, I’ve averaged about 9,500 a day and considering I don’t have my phone on me all the time, I’m doing 10,000 a day. I’m pretty strict about it. You sort of do it, and it becomes addictive. What I generally do, in the morning, I go out and walk. Weather doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not icy.  

Contact Gangitano at AlexGangitano@cqrollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @AlexGangitano .  

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