On this last Thursday in November, as Americans gather to bond (and occasionally bicker) over food and family, we asked dozens of the country’s highest-profile politicians two very important questions — What are you thankful for? And what is your favorite Thanksgiving treat?
For Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate, “seeing my grandkids all dressed up” is the Thanksgiving favor he treasures above all others.
For fellow GOP White House contestant Mike Huckabee, who spent a decade as Arkansas governor, a “deep-fried turkey” is what’s for dinner, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants the country to know he is “in charge of the mashed potatoes.”
On Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is primed for a serving of “chocolate mousse,” but most thankful for “my five children and nine grandchildren.” Pelosi’s deputy, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, prefers the more traditional fare: “Turkey with lots of gravy.”
That rare Texas Democrat, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, enjoys the holiday because it “allows us all to reflect on those that really mean the most to us.” That, and pie. “I love pie,” she said. “Sweet potato is my favorite, with pumpkin being a close second this time of year.”
Across the aisle, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is playing the long game as she looks “forward to the leftovers — turkey and cranberry sandwiches.” She is grateful for “the opportunities this country has given me, and for my parents, for believing in me and sacrificing so that I can have a better life.”
Her colleague, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, said a better holiday can be achieved by following his recipe for Cajun fried turkey.
“The process of preparing a fried turkey begins the night before Thanksgiving,” he explained. “We inject the turkey with a secret combination of our favorite Cajun seasonings (I can tell you the mix involves cayenne, garlic, chili and black pepper), and let it marinate overnight. On Thanksgiving Day, we fry the turkey in a boiling pot of peanut oil and serve it up hot.”
A wise politician, Republican Luke Messer, informs that he is standing by for pecan pie “or my sister-in-law Mandy’s sugar cream — an Indiana favorite,” while Democrat Adam Schiff is looking forward to “a nice crispy stuffing with ground sausage and spice.”
In the upper chamber, simpler tastes prevail.
The senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, prefers “traditional Thanksgiving fare,” he told CNN, including “a good bottle of wine and football on TV.” His Chicago Bears face a tough task in Green Bay Thursday night, so he would be wise to keep the spirits handy.
Fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein is thankful for “being an American, with all our rights and protections,” not to mention “good turkey and homemade stuffing.”
“Freedom and liberties” will be top of mind for Republican Chuck Grassley this Thanksgiving. The Iowa senator is also “also thankful for family and for my wife of 61 years, Barbara,” who “makes the best apple crisp.”
Georgia’s Johnny Isakson is grateful for so much he “hates to pick just one,” but he eventually settles on “the men and women in our Armed Forces.” And dressing. “Dressing,” he says, “is my favorite Thanksgiving dish.” Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, another GOP colleague, enjoys “dressing” too, but he is also craving “turkey…cranberries and pumpkin pie.”
Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson doesn’t want to choose. The proud grandpa (twice over) says “there’s not just one thing, it has to be everything together. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, sweet potatoes and stuffing all combined on one plate, piled high.”
If that seems like a lot to swallow, Johnson has some advice.
“The leftover plate the next day is even better.”
Brenna Williams contributed to this report.
By Gregory Krieg and Heather Goldin