The White House was abuzz with excitement on Tuesday afternoon, after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told reporters that he digs President Bush and “liked his politics.” “We have a Republican superstar!” said one White House staffer excitedly.
Of course when it comes to athletes, Republicans have had a strong presence: the great Ted Williams, Sen. Jim Bunning and Al Leiter in baseball. J.C. Watts and tight ends Brent Jones and Mark Chmura in football. Bill Bradley in … oops! never mind.
The reality is that the Republican Party has made an effort to recruit athletes to their ranks, perhaps more so than Democrats. Already, Leiter, the No. 1 pitcher for the New York Mets, is talking up a run for the Senate out of New Jersey when he retires. Jones, a San Francisco Bay Area native, has considered a run for a House seat in the East Bay. Even his 49er quarterback, future Hall of Famer Steve Young, has considered running for office. Former NBA star Charles Barkley, a friend of Justice Clarence Thomas, still talks about running as a Republican for governor of Alabama, and now Utah Jazz star Karl Malone says that after he retires he wants to run for Arkansas governor as a Republican.
So what is it about Republicans and sports figures? “They are icons,” says an RNC policy staffer. “There has always been that fascination, the same with Democrats and actors. I guess the difference is we have so few real stars, that when you hear a kid like Brady could be a Republican you get this hysteria. Remember when people thought Clint Eastwood might be a conservative? Or Ted Turner? My god, it was huge, everyone talked about it. Then the reality set in and we felt burned. Maybe it’s just the hope that one of these guys will turn out to be the next Reagan. The next great Republican hero.”
FATHER KNOWS BEST
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and current New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo has learned at the feet of two master political panderers, his father, Mario, and Bill Clinton. So big surprise that Andy flew off to Israel yesterday in hopes of showing up in lots of photo-ops that find their way back to New York City media.
Cuomo’s timing couldn’t be better. “Carl McCall went over there weeks ago, and he’s got nothing to show for it,” says a Cuomo staffer of Cuomo’s main primary competition for the Democratic nomination. “Andy will be right in the thick of things. He has impeccable timing.”
Impeccable? According to this Cuomo staffer, the younger Cuomo wanted to head over to Israel right after McCall made his visit. “You could tell he was chomping at the bit. But his dad told him to slow down, to bide his time and wait for a more advantageous moment. This is it.”
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