Radel on Congress, Immigration, and the New Daft Punk Album

Rep. Trey Radel is interviewed in his Washington D.C. office in June. 
National Journal
Chris Frates
See more stories about...
Chris Frates
Aug. 21, 2013, 3:05 p.m.

Earli­er this sum­mer, GOP Rep. Trey Radel sat down with Na­tion­al Journ­al in his Cap­it­ol Hill of­fice to talk about his time with the im­prov com­edy school Second City, his Valentine’s Day din­ner with Rep. Debbie Wasser­man Schultz and the new Daft Punk al­bum. Oh, and he weighed in on im­mig­ra­tion, bi­par­tis­an­ship, and press shield laws, too.

The in­ter­view with the 37-year-old Flor­idi­an has been ed­ited for clar­ity and length.

NJ: You’re a fresh­man. Why should any­one read this in­ter­view?

Radel: I’m a fresh­man. I have no idea what I’m talk­ing about. We’ll go ahead and wrap it up there. I think that this fresh­man class is markedly dif­fer­ent from the waves that we’ve seen in the past. It’s a roughly even split between Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans and I think that you are see­ing a move to­wards bi­par­tis­an­ship, at min­im­um, among the fresh­man class.

We also as a fresh­man class have signed on to a shared-val­ues let­ter that we un­der­stand that our prob­lems are not about an­ger or ra­cism or hatred, that our prob­lems are num­bers, are math­em­at­ics. I came here to find solu­tions and get something done and to do that you have to work with people, peri­od.

NJ: Why should any­one think that this class has the mak­ings for a kinder, more co­oper­at­ive House in the fu­ture?

Radel: The rhet­or­ic in the me­dia has some­what been toned down. You don’t see a ton of the over­heated state­ments and rhet­or­ic about how ter­rible the oth­er side is. I haven’t seen many of our fresh­man class mem­bers do­ing it. Two per­fect ex­amples of 2010 of what I saw as an out­sider, Alan Grayson and Al­len West.

I think per­son­ally they’re both good guys. I’d be happy to work with either one of them at any time. But I think that the Amer­ic­an pub­lic is sick and tired of the name-call­ing and they want something done and I think that our fresh­man class in par­tic­u­lar un­der­stands that.

I spent my first two weeks here in Con­gress reach­ing out to every Flor­ida Demo­crat to go shake their hand and say: I’m not here to yell out you. I’m not here to name call. I’m here to work with you. And that ended up with a Valentine’s Day din­ner with Debbie Wasser­man Schultz.

NJ: What did your spouses think of that?

Radel: My wife got a kick out of it.

NJ: You’re a former tele­vi­sion re­port­er. How has that in­flu­enced how you think about your own press?

Radel: One thing that has been pretty sur­pris­ing is how the In­ter­net has be­come like 10-year-olds play­ing tele­phone. When you say something like, “I can ap­pre­ci­ate the artist­ic side of hip-hop,” it gets changed in­to “Trey Radel thinks he iden­ti­fies with Chuck D.” It goes to some lib­er­al pub­lic­a­tion which then turns it in­to, “This guy who rep­res­ents Naples, Flor­ida, where there are golf courses and churches, thinks that he rep­res­ents the mes­sage from Chuck D.” That’s not fac­tu­al in any sense.

NJ: What do you think of the Justice De­part­ment secretly col­lect­ing tele­phone re­cords of As­so­ci­ated Press and Fox News re­port­ers?

Radel: It’s a polit­ic­al fish­ing ex­ped­i­tion that scares me and should scare every Amer­ic­an in this coun­try. And that’s why I’ve in­tro­duced, with a lib­er­al Demo­crat from De­troit, John Con­yers, le­gis­la­tion called the Free Flow of In­form­a­tion Act.

NJ: What does it do?

Radel: Raises the bar for when the De­part­ment of Justice, or any fed­er­al law-en­force­ment agency, wants to pry in­to the per­son­al or pub­lic life of a journ­al­ist.

NJ: Do you want to see im­mig­ra­tion-re­form passed, and if so what should it look like?

Radel: Right now, I’m open to everything. However, the Sen­ate bill does not go far enough. I don’t even think it would have a shot in the House. [Re­pub­lic­an Rep.] Mario Diaz-Bal­art, he’s my neigh­bor, he’s a long­time friend and ment­or, is work­ing with Demo­crats in the House right now and they’re just try­ing to shape up a policy that I think has a chance.

NJ: Who’s the most fam­ous per­son you met at Second City?

Radel: Rachel Drech, she was on Sat­urday Night Live. I just took some classes there. I wasn’t a per­former or any­thing.

NJ: Are you us­ing your act­ing classes right now?

Radel: No, it was im­prov com­edy, though some would look at Con­gress as pretty com­ic­al.

NJ: Rep. Paul Ry­an en­dorsed your primary op­pon­ent. Have you spoken to him since? You guys boys now?

Radel: We ab­so­lutely talked. Paul had a per­son­al re­la­tion­ship with a guy I ran against. Look, they’re friends, and I totally un­der­stand. And I talk with Paul Ry­an al­most every­day that I’m here in Wash­ing­ton. Paul Ry­an is fant­ast­ic and part of the fu­ture of the party.

NJ: You re­filed your fin­an­cial dis­clos­ures after the elec­tion to in­clude your trust funds. Does that mean you’re a trust-fund baby?

Radel: On a ser­i­ous note, I had my grandma and my mom die very close to each oth­er. My mom died at my wed­ding. And I’ve been put through hell in the past last few years. My mom lit­er­ally died on my wed­ding re­cep­tion floor, right after my wife and I were mar­ried. It was a freak ac­ci­dent; she choked. There was a para­med­ic in the room who couldn’t save her.

When I launched a cam­paign I was still deal­ing with my mom’s situ­ation. And what we missed and screwed up on, and I take full re­spons­ib­il­ity as the can­did­ate, was when my ac­count­ant filled out the [Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion] re­ports, he didn’t know that stuff in pro­bate, it was not settled, we didn’t know that had to be dis­closed. It was just an hon­est mis­take.

NJ: Tell me one in­ter­est­ing thing about you that folks don’t know.

Radel: I played gui­tar in a rock band, and I used to have hair down to here [points to his shoulders]. We did some clas­sic rock; we did Cream, Neil Young. Pearl Jam, Nir­vana. It was the ‘90s. I picked up a gui­tar when I first heard “Smells Like Teen Spir­it.” I can still do those chords today.

NJ: You said you could ” kill it” in an old-school hip-hop match­up with Sen. Marco Ru­bio. So throw down the gaunt­let right here in the pages of Na­tion­al Journ­al. When and where?

Radel: You name the time and place, we’ll let Na­tion­al Journ­al spon­sor it. I don’t know how many read­ers are go­ing to be in­ter­ested in a hip-hop trivia con­test between Marco Ru­bio and Trey Radel, but we can see what we can do.

NJ: You talk about mix­ing your own beats. Are you a DJ?

Radel: I like to pro­duce mu­sic. I like to make hip-hop beats and house mu­sic. I am by no means good at it. I love it. I really en­joy it. And I just use my Mac at home. As dis­ap­poin­ted as I am by their new al­bum, I’m a huge Daft Punk fan.

NJ: Are you dis­ap­poin­ted by that al­bum? It’s no “Dis­cov­ery,” but it’s good.

Radel: For me, though, I guess I still need to keep listen­ing and I need to re­move the pre­tense that I’m look­ing for beats. I think some of it is kind of clunky. When I think about what I like, I love the song with Phar­rell. It is a jam. What I liked off “Dis­cov­ery” is like “Face to Face“, which is kind of like the sound that they’ve got on this new al­bum. But the new al­bum is just still kind of like, I’m just look­ing for it to lift off some­where.

What We're Following See More »
IN ADDITION TO DNC AND DCCC
Clinton Campaign Also Hacked
49 minutes ago
THE LATEST
1.5 MILLION MORE TUNED IN FOR TRUMP
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

Source:
AFFECTS NOVEMBER ELECTIONS
North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."

Source:
NORTH DAKOTA TO ILLINOIS
Massive Oil Pipeline Approved for the Midwest
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."

Source:
DISAPPOINTING RESULTS
GDP Grew at 1.2% in Q2
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."

Source:
×