GOP Rep. Arm-Wrestled Putin: ‘He Put Me Down In A Millisecond … Muscles Were Just Unbelievable’

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who sits on the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, told Southern California Public Radio in an interview on Syria that he once arm-wrestled Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Rohrabacher, who was elected in 1989 and previously served as a senior speech writer to Ronald Reagan, said he met a “a group of young political leaders” visiting from Russia and invited them to a football game in a friendly gesture. Three Russian officials accepted the invitation including Putin, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, whom Rohrabacher says he didn’t know at the time.

“We went out and we played touch football and Scooter Libby was one of the players and a bunch of my right-wing friends were there,” Rohrabacher said. “We all ended up going to the Irish Times pub afterwards. And we were having a little bit too much to drink I guess. But anyway we started arguing about who won the Cold War, etc, and so we decided to settle it like men do when they’ve had too much to drink in the pub.”

“So we got down to these arm-wrestling matches and I ended up being paired off with Putin!” he continued. “And he’s a little guy but boy I tell ya — he put me down in a millisecond. He is tough! He just – muscles were just unbelievable.”

“You know he’s a tough guy and he’s supposed to be a tough guy, that’s what the Russian people want,” he added. “But that’s not reason we shouldn’t try to work with him.”

Listen to the full interview with KPCC here.

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Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at igor@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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