Eleven Questions for … Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.): Welcome to our new weekly interview feature in which we talk to lawmakers, D.C. fixtures, lobbyists, administration officials and otherwise interesting political types. We asked Carper about being a Delawarean, what his wife thought of this viral moment, his colleague Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and the budget reconciliation bill.
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1. The Early: In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Carper: When I explain my job to kids, I say that I help make the rules for our country and help people too.
2. The Early: Finish this sentence: The worst thing about Washington is _______.
Carper: It’s not a state! It’s past time to make D.C. our 51st state.
3. The Early: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Carper: Not enough.
4. The Early: What was the last book you finished? (Be honest!) And what are you reading now?
Carper: As a man of faith, I just reread the Gospel of Luke. I’m currently reading a soon-to-be-released book by John Doerr, titled ‘Speed and Scale.’ It’s an action plan for tackling the greatest threat we face — the climate crisis.
5. The Early: Describe your Sunday routine.
Carper: Well, I’m an early riser. I like to get up and go for a five- or six-mile run before my wife Martha and I go to church. Then we go home and have breakfast together while we watch Fareed Zakaria and read the paper. In the evenings, we call or FaceTime our sons. We also like to watch a movie to end the night. Right now, we’re working our way through the 2021 Academy Award Best Picture nominees.
6. The Early: What is the thing you’re most proud of?
Carper: Helping to raise two sons, Christopher and Ben, and my stepson, Greg. All three are wonderful young men and I love them dearly.
7. The Early: Who is your closest friend on the other side of the aisle?
Carper: The late George Voinovich [the Republican senator from Ohio, who died in 2016]. Even though he is no longer with us, he’s my all-time best buddy on the other side of the aisle — and always will be.
8. The Early: Everyone in Delaware has a Joe Biden story. What’s yours?
Carper: There are too many to choose from! But Joe is the one who convinced me to run for Congress when I was state treasurer. In July of 1982, we were at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, and he said to me, ‘Let’s go for a walk.’ He had me over to his house the next day to speak with some friends and supporters. I decided to run following that meeting — just about five minutes before the filing deadline. Eighteen years later, something similar happened. He convinced my wife Martha and me that I should run for Senate. I was term limited as governor and had no plans to run for office again, but he made the case and I ran.
9. The Early: What amount of money needs to be spent on climate provisions in the budget bill?
Carper: None of us know for sure just how much that will be. But it’s going to be significant and it’s going to be for more than just this year. Bold investments in climate will create jobs, spur economic growth and protect the future of our country and our planet.
10. The Early: Describe Joe Manchin in one word.
11. The Early: What did your wife think of your viral shirtless photo?
Carper: She said, ‘I’m luckiest girl in the world.’ (Not really!)