All-American Hobbies for U.S. Politicians

Learn who collected stamps, who's a bowhunter and who plays piano.

August 15, 2012, 12:28 PM

Aug. 15, 2012 -- intro: Like most of us, politicians enjoy both work and play. Check out some hobbies of U.S. politicians.

quicklist:1title: Portman Rides in Styletext: Sen. Rob Portman's affinity for canoeing and kayaking is not his only hobby. He likes cars, too. More than 50 years ago, his father bought a 1917 Ford Model T to replace the one he had in high school. The Ohio senator is now the owner of this old whip that he restored. Portman posted a picture on Twitter of himself in the vehicle, tweeting, "Got my 1917 Model T out this evening to shuttle son and daughter after their float down the river near our house."


quicklist: 2title: Rick Santorum Bowlstext: Former GOP hopeful Rick Santorum is a bowling fanatic. He emphasized his love for the sport often throughout his primary campaign as a point of similarity with voters, even at one point suggesting that the Wisconsin primary be decided by a bowl-off. Santorum's affinity for bowling isn't simply a campaign stunt, however ? he has been bowling for a long time, and used it as a way to blow off steam while out on the trail. Most recently, Santorum bested ABC's own Jonathan Karl in a Washington, DC, bowling alley showdown.

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quicklist: 3title: Obama Plays Pooltext:The president is a man of many talents. Not only is he the commander-in-chief, an avid basketballer and a decent chef, pool shark can now also be added to his credentials. Obama told ABC's Washington affiliate WLJA's Scott Thuman, "I cook a really mean chili. People don't know this, but Michelle can testify. Now, she'll claim that I haven't cooked it for about 10 years, so I shouldn't get too much credit for it." Obama continues, "I'm a surprisingly good pool player, so if you ever see me in a pool hall ? I might end up cleaning your clock. That's a possibility. And ? I'm also a pretty good doodler. See, folks don't know that about me."

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quicklist: 4title: Mitt Romney Loves Water Sportstext:The presumptive GOP presidential nominee is certainly known to enjoy the outdoors. Romney has been spotted doing activities include surfing, body boarding, jet skiing and boating. He has been seen enjoying them both near his beach home in La Jolla, Calif., as well as at his lake house at Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H.


quicklist: 5title: Condoleezza Rice Plays Pianotext:Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is an accomplished pianist. She is so accomplished in fact, that she was invited to perform before the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace in late 2008. Though Rice always envisioned herself playing at Carnegie Hall, she was given the slightly more prestigious opportunity when asked to perform a piece by Brahms at the Palace alongside the wife of her British counterpart and several members of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Rice once said, "It's not exactly relaxing if you are struggling to play Brahms," she admitted. "But it is transporting. When you're playing there is only room for Brahms or Shostakovich. It's the time I'm most away from myself, and I treasure it."

Rice, who has been playing the piano since she was a young woman, performed Mozart's Piano Concerto in D minor with the Denver Symphony Orchestra at the tender age of 15. She received this honor as a prize for winning a student competition. A young Rice intended on professionally pursuing a career in music until she went to college, first majoring in piano at the University of Denver before changing her major to political science.


quicklist: 6title: Rob Portman Kayakstext: GOP VP contender Rob Portman is a water bug. He enjoyed one of his favorite hobbies of kayaking in June when he participated in the annual Ohio River Paddlefest. The friendly competition is a tradition in Cincinnati where kayakers and canoers cruise along the Ohio River. Portman said the event was "great" and said his group won their division. Though he is an avid kayaker, Portman admits, "I am not a very good golfer" which is a hobby shared by many other American politicians such as Presidents Barack Obama, Richard Nixon and John Kennedy.

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quicklist: 7title:Dwight Eisenhower Paintedtext: Former president Dwight D. Eisenhower was known for his love of golf but as an adult, Ike took up a new hobby that showed his more sensitive side: painting. Though he had no formal artistic training, Eisenhower kept a small painting studio in an upper floor of the White House.

In a letter to Winston Churchill written in 1950, Eisenhower admitted, "I have a lot of fun since I took it up, in my somewhat miserable way, your hobby of painting. I have had no instruction, have no talent, and certainly no justification for covering nice, white canvas with the kind of daubs that seem constantly to spring from my brushes. Nevertheless, I like it tremendously, and in fact, have produced two or three things that I like enough to keep." Not only did Eisenhower like the paintings enough to keep, he used some of his painted images to send out as his presidential Christmas cards.


quicklist: 8title: Bill Clinton Plays the Saxtext: Former President, Bill Clinton is no stranger to jazz, in fact, playing the saxophone has been a hobby of his since high school. In his autobiography titled, "My Life" Clinton admits that he briefly considered pursuing a music career before deciding to dedicate his life to public service and politics. During his 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton made numerous public appearances where he displayed his musical ability on stage. In 1992, during his campaign, Clinton performed "Heartbreak Hotel" on "The Arsenio Hall Show" and a few years later he played the brass instrument at one of his inaugural balls.


quicklist: 9title: FDR Collected Stampstext:Franklin D. Roosevelt was not only a political innovator, but he was a philatelic enthusiast too. Since the age of 8, a young Roosevelt immersed himself into the world of stamp collecting. He joined stamp clubs, bought stamps from dealers and at auction, and promoted the hobby by association with stamp shows. His hobby and passion was so astute that he ultimately gained renowned status in the world of philately. FDR spent some time each day with his stamps.

His son recalls, "I have vivid memories of father sitting at his desk when he had a half hour or hour with no appointments . . . with his stamp books and an expression of complete relaxation and enjoyment on his face." He used his stamp collection to ease his mind and distract him from stresses of the presidency. "I owe my life to my hobbies," Roosevelt once declared, "especially stamp collecting."

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quicklist: 10title: Patrick Leahy Takes Photostext:Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy has brought his love of photography to the Hill during his time in the Senate. He has brought his passion into practice, becoming somewhat of a staple photographer around Capitol Hill for over 30 years.

Leahy, who was born almost blind in one eye, has cultivated his passion for photography since he was about 6 years old. His love began when he discovered his knack for the art when his parents gave him his first camera. However, it was not until 1985 that Leahy gained recognition for his work when he snapped a shot focusing on President Reagan's signing an agriculture bill. After the photo was taken, a staffer from The Associated Press asked if they could borrow the film. Leahy agreed, requiring that AP return the footage to him when they were done. The following day Leahy went on a trip to China where he came across a copy of The China Daily that featured his photo of President Reagan's hand that the Senator took just the day before.


quicklist: 11title: Ronald Reagan Doodlestext: Former President Ronald Reagan had a rather light-hearted hobby: doodling. In March 2012, the Thatcher archive at Cambridge University released a clipping of Reagan's doodles that Margaret Thatcher had snatched up after the G7 Summit that took place near Ottawa, Canada, in July 1981. When grabbing the amateur artwork Thatcher told a historian at the Margaret Thatcher Foundation that the scribblings were fascinating to see and that she just grabbed them.

The inked sketches portrayed a doodling of an eye, a man's muscular torso and several heads, including one that is thought to look like a self-portrait. Though the doodles are simply samples of amateur artwork, Reagan's natural doodling ability caught the attention of people long after they were scribbled on paper.

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