Candidates Get Personal

Thursday, December 20, 2007

By ANN SANNER and CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writers



Bring on the grilled meat. Just don't plate it with certain vegetables.

The presidential candidates seem more aligned in their food cravings than their politics. Indulgences include a hearty Southern breakfast, chocolate and Mexican spice. Bring them all together for a feast, and the host would want to pass on the beets, eggplant, mushrooms and carrots to avoid a turned up nose at the table.

Since the spring, The Associated Press has been exploring the tastes, traits and backgrounds of the Democrats and Republicans running for their party's 2008 presidential nomination. AP asked them about their ideal jobs and their worst gigs, their hidden talents and their treasured possessions, to find out more about their personal side.

Deviating from their diets and drinking too much coffee and soda are among the worst habits that the candidates would own up to. Mitt Romney said his worst habit is an inability to sit still. Mike Huckabee can't settle on a television or radio station. Barack Obama can't give his BlackBerry a rest.

They spoke of their tastes in music _ opera, Orbison and goth rock winning favor _ and the can't-miss reality TV that they scarcely have time to see these days. John McCain revealed himself as the king of pets, owning 22 at last count, more than half of them saltwater fish.

Here are highlights from the personal side of these Democrats, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and these Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Thompson did not answer all questions because some were asked before he became a candidate.


Associated Press writers Amy Lorentzen, Philip Elliott and Libby Quaid contributed to this report.




Clinton: "Continue to work for causes and issues I care about, in a setting like a university or foundation."

Edwards: Mill supervisor.

Obama: Architect.

Richardson: Center field, New York Yankees.


Giuliani: Sports announcer.

Huckabee: Bass guitar player for a touring rock band.

McCain: Foreign service.

Romney: Auto company chief executive.




Clinton: "I'm a lousy cook, but I make pretty good soft scrambled eggs."

Edwards: Hamburgers.

Obama: Chili.

Richardson: Diet milkshake.


Giuliani: Hamburgers or steak on the grill.

Huckabee: Ribeye steak on the grill.

McCain: Baby-back ribs.

Romney: Hot dog.




Clinton: "American Idol."

Edwards: College basketball.

Obama: "Other than the U.S. Senate on C-SPAN? I don't watch them too often."

Richardson: "Fox News."


Giuliani: Baseball.

Huckabee: "Nashville Star," USA Network's country music competition.

McCain: Arizona Diamondbacks baseball.

Romney: "American Idol."




Clinton: Speed walking.

Edwards: Running.

Obama: Basketball.

Richardson: Horseback riding and tennis.


Giuliani: Golf.

Huckabee: Running.

McCain: Hiking.

Romney: Jogging.




Clinton: Chocolate.

Edwards: "Drinking soda."

Obama: "Checking my Blackberry."

Richardson: "Straying from my diet."


Giuliani: "Talking too much."

Huckabee: "Channel surfing on TV or radio."

McCain: "Coffee."

Romney: "Fidgeting."




Clinton: "I feel lucky when I can sleep until 7 a.m."

Edwards: 7 a.m.

Obama: 8 a.m.

Richardson: 7 a.m.


Giuliani: 8 a.m.

Huckabee: "Five a.m. is late for me. Most days I am up no later than 4:30 a.m."

McCain: 8 a.m.

Romney: 7 a.m.




Clinton: "I love crossword puzzles."

Edwards: "Jump shot."

Obama: "I'm a pretty good poker player."

Richardson: "Boxing trivia."


Giuliani: "Listening."

Huckabee: "Voice impersonations of dozens of celebrities."

McCain: "Barbecue grill chef."

Romney: "Singing."




Clinton: Carly Simon's "Into White."

Edwards: U2.

Obama: "The latest music purchase would probably be 'Ray' _ the soundtrack from the Ray Charles movie."

Richardson: George Strait, "50 Number Ones."


Giuliani: Verdi's "Macbeth."

Huckabee: Evanescence, the goth rock group from Little Rock, Ark.

McCain: Likes "Sounds Of Summer - The Very Best Of The Beach Boys."

Romney: "Selection of Roy Orbison songs from iTunes."




Clinton: "Organizing my closets."

Edwards: "Clearing paths in the woods."

Obama: "Too numerous to list."

Richardson: "Taking out the garbage at the mansion."


Giuliani: "Cleaning the fireplace."

Huckabee: "Cleaning garage."

McCain: "Grilling."

Romney: "Clean the gutters."




Clinton: "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Nonfiction).

Edwards: "Exile" by Richard North Patterson.

Obama: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson.

Richardson: "The administration's energy plan."


Giuliani: "The Beach House" by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge.

Huckabee: "My oldest son's screenplay."

McCain: "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway.

Romney: "Term Limits" by Vince Flynn.




Clinton: "Seamus, our Lab."

Edwards: Golden retriever and chocolate Lab.

Obama: None.

Richardson: Cats Jake and Squeaky.


Giuliani: None.

Huckabee: Jet the 9-year-old black Lab, Sonic the 1 1/2-year-old Shih Tzu.

McCain: Sam the English springer spaniel, Coco the mutt, turtles Cuff and Link, Oreo the black and white cat, a ferret, three parakeets and 13 saltwater fish.

Romney: Family recently lost Marley, a Weimaraner.




Clinton: "I always loved history and got good grades, but I never did well at math."

Edwards: Best, English; worst, chemistry.

Obama: Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law; D in 8th grade French.

Richardson: A in spelling; F in music.


Giuliani: Best, constitutional law and contracts in law school. Worst, tax in law school.

Huckabee: A+ (100 percent average) in debate; C in 9th Grade algebra.

McCain: "I never got good grade."

Romney: A to F. "Fortunately, I got more A's than F's."




Clinton: "I like nearly everything. "I don't like, you know, things that are still alive."

Edwards: "I can't stand mushrooms. I don't want them on anything that I eat. And I have had to eat them because you get food served and it's sitting there and you're starving, so you eat."

Obama: "Beets, and I always avoid eating them."

Richardson: Mushrooms, specifically. "I'm not a big vegetable eater." Recalling the first President Bush's distaste for broccoli, he said: "I sympathize with that fully."


Giuliani: Liver.

Huckabee: "Carrots. I just don't like carrots. I banned them from the governor's mansion when I was governor of Arkansas because I could."

McCain: "I eat almost everything. Sometimes I don't do too well with vegetables."

Romney: "Eggplant, in any shape or form. And I've always been able to avoid it."

Thompson: "Not much. I've tried to do better about that. I jokingly say that we kind of have a diet around our house that if it tastes good, you don't eat it. I haven't quite got there yet. There's not much that I turn down. That's a good thing on the campaign trail because you get quite a variety."




Clinton: "Sliming fish in a fish cannery in Valdez, Alaska."

Edwards: Textile mill. "I cleaned out overhead in the weave room, which is where all the crap goes. And I'd be up there climbing around, knocking the stuff down. And it would go down on the looms. The weavers would be, uh, not happy with me for that."

Obama: Scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins and eating too much of it.

Richardson: Landscaping, while playing baseball on Cape Cod in 1967. "The pay was terrible. I remember it was backbreaking work."


Huckabee: "Washing windows at JCPenney's and stocking shelves when I was 14 years old. ... It was a great job and it was a great company but they worked me hard. Just as I'd get all the fingerprints wiped off the door, somebody would come and they'd put their hands all over the glass. To this day, I'm still very sensitive about never touching the glass, but touching the handles because I had to wipe those windows so many times."

McCain: "I've never really had a bad job."

Romney: "Worst job was probably spending about a week sawing a sewer pipe at the ranch in Idaho I worked at. And getting down in the sewer and sawing through a sewer pipe that still had active sewage occasionally passing through it."

Thompson: "I've worked in a factory, I was a bouncer at my uncle's drag strip, I worked at the post office, I sold children's shoes, I sold ladies', I sold men's clothing, I was a night clerk at a motel. I can't think of a job that I had that I wasn't thankful for at the time."

Giuliani: Declined to answer.




New York Sen. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton: No nicknames that stuck

Former North Carolina Sen. Johnny Reid Edwards: John

Illinois Sen. Barack Hussein Obama Jr.: Barry

New Mexico Gov. William Blaine Richardson: Coyote Bill


Former New York Mayor Rudolph William Louis Giuliani: Rudy

Former Arkansas Gov. Michael Dale Huckabee: Mike and Huck

Arizona Sen. John Sidney McCain III: Johnny

Former Massachusetts Gov. Willard Mitt Romney: "In high school, my friends called me Bird Legs. And how did I get it? Take a guess."

Former Tennessee Sen. Freddie Dalton Thompson: Mr. President




Clinton: A 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a battery she kept in her law-school dorm on cold nights so the car would start when she needed it. (Now: A Ford hybrid, and Secret Service vehicles as former first lady)

Edwards: Plymouth Duster. (Now: Ford Escape hybrid, 2004 Chrysler Pacifica midsize SUV, 1994 GMC truck.)

Obama: Grandfather's Ford Granada was the first car he used extensively. (Now: Chrysler 300C, a full-size sport-luxury sedan.)

Richardson: Secondhand Ford Mustang. (Now: Official state vehicles and "Jeep Wrangler, although my security doesn't like me to drive."


Giuliani: A used Dodge. (Now: "I don't drive, I navigate.")

Huckabee: Mercury Montego. (Now: 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and 1995 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck)

McCain: 1958 Corvette. (Now: Cadillac CTS, a midsize luxury sedan)

Romney: A used 1963 Rambler Classic, which he got in 1965 when he went to college. (His father, then Michigan governor, had helped develop the Rambler as American Motors chief) (Now: 2005 Ford Mustang convertible and 1962 Rambler American.)

Thompson: Red pickup. Now: Unknown.




Clinton: iPod

Edwards: iPod

Obama: BlackBerry

Richardson: BlackBerry, "my Crackberry."


Giuliani: CD player

Huckabee: "Probably my laptop. Or my bass guitar and amplifier."

McCain: Razr cell phone and the TV remote

Romney: BlackBerry

Thompson: iPod




Clinton's campaign: "Too many to choose from; she is the most famous person nobody really knows."

Edwards: "That I have an accent. Actually, the rest of the country does."

Obama: No answer.

Richardson: "That politicians are late. I work very hard to be on time."


Giuliani's campaign: "That he's too serious."

Huckabee: No answer.

McCain (grinning): "I think there are many, starting with my good looks, winning personality, the fact that I have never lost my temper. Frankly, I think there's been enough visibility in all these years in public office that Americans have me pretty well figured out, both failings as well as virtues."

Romney: "It probably relates to the issue you raised the other day that I changed positions on a number of issues. And that is just not an accurate characterization."

Thompson's campaign: "Really not much of a break dancer."



Thompson's campaign answered tongue in cheek.


Clinton: No answer

Edwards (laughing): "I hate these questions because they always require more thought than I have time to give them. Prized like long-term or short-term? My running shoes are very important to me."

Obama: "Photograph in my office of the cliffs of Oahu's South Shore, where my mother's ashes are scattered."

Richardson: "Baseball signed by Ted Williams."


Giuliani: "My grandfather's pocket watch."

Huckabee: "Probably my Tobias bass guitar or maybe, I've got a handmade musket rifle that was made by a guy in Eureka Springs, Ark. I've hunted turkey with it. It's really an amazing firearm. Probably one of those two as far as just real heirlooms."

McCain: "I have a baseball signed by Ted Williams, my childhood hero, a Marine pilot as well."

Romney: 1962 Rambler American, which his sons bought for him. "The last year that my dad was president of American Motors and made Ramblers was 1962, so it's a connection with my dad and that era."

Thompson: "Trophy wife."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.