Frist: “I’m competitive.”

U.S. Senator Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, spoke with Radio Iowa late this afternoon about his morning experience near Van Meter.  Frist participated in the Republican Party of Iowa’s fundraiser that started at 8am — a skeet shooting tournament.  Frist not only handed out the awards, but he entered the competition, hitting 16 of 25 clay targets.

Frist and I — surrounded by a couple of his staffers — were walking down a hallway.  I had my minidisc recorder in my left hand.  When Frist ducked into a nook that was a bit more quiet for a radio interview, he grabbed my left forearm and said into the microphone:  "While we’re doing radio, let’s see: who did better in skeet today?  Was it Senator Frist or was it Chip Saltsman?"

Frist then pushed the microphone/my arm toward Saltsman, who is on the payroll of Frist’s pack.  Saltsman was chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party in 2000 and worked for Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist. Saltsman worked for Frist before when Frist headed the NRSC.

"Definitely Senator Frist," Saltsman replied to the question about today’s shooting accuracy.  Frist then shifted the mic/my arm back to his side of this interview.

"Yes, indeed.  Why don’t we say, as a percentage, how many more skeet Senator Frist killed, pulled out of there, as compared to Chip Saltsman," Frist suggested.

"Are you counting your knicks?" Saltsman said.

"No, no," yelled another Frist staffer. 

"Maybe about 10 percent," Saltsman then offered as a response to how far he fell behind Frist.

"How about 40 percent?" Frist said, then began calculating out loud.  Saltsman hit 12 of 25.  Frist then amended his declaration.  "Oh now, it’s 33 percent more," Frist said, adding "O.K." as he released my arm and directed his gaze on me.  I was laughing.  There was a bit more ribbing between the two men.

"You must be a mathematician," I told Frist.

"No, I’m competitive," Frist replied.  "I don’t come across as competitive, but I’m competitive."

"Do you do a lot of hunting?" I asked.

"I do a lot of hunting.  I hunt throughout the south.  The night that I became Majority Leader I went hunting…I don’t do a lot of skeet shooting," Frist said.

"Does that pay off then when you go for a real hunt?" I asked.

"Absolutely.  It’s good practice.  To be honest with you, I hunt a lot more than I shoot skeet.  I was very surprised that I was as successful as I was in beating all of my staff today," Frist said.

"Will you come back for pheasant season?" I asked.

"I had several invitations and I definitely will be back for pheasant season," Frist said.

I wrote a brief Radio Iowa story about Frist’s skeet shooting experience. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.