Ed Rendell, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, joins the show to talk about his two careers – one in public office and one talking sports. Seriously, is there a more perfect guest for this show than Governor Rendell. We love sports. We love politics. And in this case, we get the chance to talk a lot about both.
The interview was done in his Philadelphia office, so we start there: Philadelphia. The city of champions. We discuss the genius that is the miniature William Penn statue atop the Comcast Building. Gov. Rendell suggests they should sell those, to which I replied that I would purchase one and affix it to the top of my house. And I would in fact do that.
We talk about the Governor’s life and what a week is like for a man who runs a state and still has time to talk football on TV. How much of his time is spent in Philly? How much in Harrisburg and how much in the Steel City? And I ask a question that you never expect a straight answer to: can he be a real person, or is he always Governor Rendell. In short, no, he can’t be a real person, but only feels that way when he’s in the safe haven of sports. Pretty interesting answer.
We talk at length about his comment regarding the life and family – or lack thereof – of Arizona Governor and appointed head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. CNN’s Campbell Brown took Rendell to task for saying Napolitano had “no life” and “no family” and the Governor talks frankly about his comments, Brown’s reaction and the idea that, as a public figure, you’re always on. The microphone is always pointed at you and if there’s even a cell phone in the room, anything you say can make national news. I ask what kind of pressure that creates when out in public.
I ask the Governor to break down his job. How much of what he does is interviews, press conferences, publicity events and how much of his job, or the job of any politician is rolling up your sleeves and actually governing.
We talk about outgoing President Bush and incoming President Obama. Rendell takes some of Bush’s decisions to task, but in doing so, defends Bush’s ambition for trying to get things done. They were just the wrong things. With regard to Obama, we talk about the scrutiny he’ll be placed under (perhaps more than GW) and wonder how long his grace period will last.
I ask the Governor what his political end game is. There was talk he might be a running mate if Hillary got the nomination, so what further political aspirations does he have? After downplaying his name being on any “short lists” he does mention that after his term as Governor is up, if the position presents itself, he’d be interested in a position in Obama’s cabinet. But, as he says, “what will be, will be” and he’d be just has happy getting a full-time teaching gig.
Onto sports, I ask the Governor what he knows more about: politics or sports. We talk a lot of Eagles chat, including what the legacy of Donovan McNabb will be (and should be) in this town. Rendell wants McNabb to stick around in Philly, going so far as to say, “This team has the making of a Super Bowl contender for the next three or four years.” We also discuss the career of Andy Reid and the Governor explains just how good Reid has been in his time in Philly.
We talk about the fact that we’re one game away from an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl, which would be one of the greatest things for a Governor to be a part of. I ask what his Governor’s bet will be (it involves the two cities donating food to shelters) and I ask what others around the state think of him, especially with his loyal affinity for the Eagles. He mentions that in 2004, when a PA Super Bowl almost happened, he lobbied to the NFL to have the game played in State College (joke, but good idea) and that he’ll happily do it again this time around if both teams get there.
Last, I ask him what athlete or Philly sports figure would make the best politician. His answers might surprise you.