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tv   Interview with Representative Tom Suozzi  CSPAN  February 7, 2017 7:50pm-8:01pm EST

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invest in youth groups and the port of l.a. being there which is a huge economic engine in the district that creates opportunities for families. >> is that where most of the jobs are in the district? >> there is a huge district? >> there is a huge amount, at the port. there is a lot of talk about transportation and infrastructure funding. if we can get money to come to the district for bridges, ports, roads, that's all creating opportunity. for me it starts with education and it certainly starts with health because, if they're too sick to go to school, then you have a cycle there that won't work. congresswoman, thank you very much for your time. >> thank you. >> congressman tom suozzi, representing new york, democrat, third district. tell us what you were doing before you ran for this seat. >> i was trained originally as a lawyer and certified public accountant. i worked for arthur andersen and company and i clerked for the chief judge of the eastern district in the federal courts. and i worked for a big law firm sherman and sterling.
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then i was the mayor of my hometown for eight years and then i was the county executive of a large county. nassua county on long island, 1.3 million people. $2.8 billion budget. i did that for eight years. i had actually run for governor of new york state against eliot spitzer in a democratic primary. that did not turn out well for me. didn't turn out very well for eliot spitzer either. then i lost my race in 2009 for county executive and went back into the private sector i worked for a large investment banking advisory firm. and i worked for a law firm as well. so i have been in the private sector for the past seven years. steve israel decided he wasn't going to run for reelection. today is the one-year anniversary of when he decided he was not running again. happy anniversary, steve. i decided i would run. a five-way primary. i won the primary. then i had a tough election campaign, but i won on november 8th, and now i am a united
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states congressman. >> what did the losses teach you about politics and running for office? >> that's what life is about, about ups and downs. my father was born in italy. my grandfather used to give advice in italian to the new couples in weddings. he would say you can't have the roses without the thorns. you couldn't appreciate the good things in life without the suffering as well. that's part of life, facing tough times and seeing whether you can get back up and keep moving forward. it taught me some humility, what loss is like. i had loss in my personal life as well but losses in politics. if you look at american history, from george washington crossing the delaware to abraham lincoln losing every race to so many other examples. loss is a part of life. you have to keep on moving on from that. >> talk about your childhood. >> i am the youngest of five children. my father as i mentioned was an italian immigrant.
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came to the united states as a young boy. my mother is irish and english. her mother immigrated from england. her grandfather came from ireland. my grandfather on my mother's side put the lights on top of the empire state building as a member of the union during the depression. and there are four boys one girl in the family. i am the youngest. my father was a great american success story. this is my wall of heroes. my number one hero is my dad who i mentioned was born in italy. came to the united states as a young boy. he was the first one to go to college from the neighborhood of all the kids in the area. he went to fordham university and then he joined the u.s. army air corps during world war ii as a navigator on the b-24. he served in italy on 35 missions. he went to harvard law school.
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that was just amazing in the 1940s. after harvard he came back to glen cove, our hometown, and ran for city supreme court judge and became the youngest city court judge in the united states. he was the mayor of glen cove. and then he ran for supreme court of new york state, one of the trial courts. he is campaigning here with john f. kennedy which is pretty amazing. growing up, seeing a picture of my father with john f. kennedy, it was like, this is perfectly normal to hang out with one of the greatest figures in american history. i was always interested in politics because of that through my family, through my father, and i was always around that. i never expected to run for mayor. i always thought i would run for congress. it took me 20 years to do that. this is john f. kennedy. theodore roosevelt, who is from my district. sagamore hill on long island, oyster bay.
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harry truman. a very blunt, plain spoken, straightforward person. that's one of the things i worry about with me being in congress. it seems like there is so much intrigue and maneuvering and i'm like bla, let it out. we hope it will work out. al smith, governor of new york state, first catholic ever to run for president of the united states. he lost badly in that race, though. then i have got martin luther king over here. i love to show this one to kids because everybody thinks of martin luther king making his i have a dream speech on the steps with hundreds of thousands of people adoring him. it wasn't always that way. he was in church basements talking to people quietly worried about people beating them up, slowly organizing piece by piece before you could culminate in the speech that we all watch now and see on tv commercials. but it wasn't always like that. of course, bobby kennedy, who was so much hope for idealism at
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the time he was running for president. mario cuomo, the governor of new york state, a great hero when i was a young man. these are just some other things that i was involved -- the fix albany campaign. i ran for governor of new york state, or even before that, i went after the dysfunction in new york state government. it's really something that i have run on for congress because we face so much dysfunction in the congress right now. people are worried that things don't get done. so part of my whole big campaign theme was suozzi gets it done. >> congressman, what's your -- how important is your italian heritage and catholicism to you? how has it impacted you? >> it's a very big part of my life. my faith motivates a lot of what i'm about. it's not just about my faith. there are so many people of faith. i wrote an op ed piece after i had won the election about how democrats need to talk more about faith because people who attend religious services once a
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week -- any kind of religious service, are much more inclined to vote republican than democratic, and the less you pay attention to faith of any type, you're more likely to vote democratic. it's a cultural problem i think democrats are facing. it's not about one religion, this religion or my region, it's about understanding people have values and their faith is often very important to them. we need to communicate in those terms, especially in this difficult, fast-moving time we live in today with everything changing so quickly. changing every second. if we don't have values that undergird what we believe in, we're not going to survive all this quick technological change. i think democrats from a political perspective need to communicate in that language. so i said love thy neighbor is a concept that cuts across all types of faith. even people who don't have faith have adopted the concept of love thy neighbor. if democrats and republicans realize we're all coming from the same place it's more likely
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that we could work together. >> talk about your family a little bit. >> i have another picture. this is good. we didn't plan this. this is my wife helene. this is our oldest daughter caroline. this is joseph and michael. this picture is a little bit old now. i guess it's about five years old. caroline is 21. joe is 18 and michael is 13. he has grown up a lot since this picture. but that's -- of course, the most important thing in my life. really, they're actually in the other room right now. i was practicing my first floor speech. i'll be giving my first floor speech today. a one-minute speech. i was practicing with them. >> what will will it be about? >> the u.n. resolution related to israel and the palestinians. i support strongly the state of israel in the debate. i was practicing my remarks. this is my first campaign. i told you i have been involved in many campaigns. it was the first campaign where
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all the children were involved. my wife has always been involved. our daughter caroline was going door to door, making phone calls. she was on a commercial. joe was making deliveries, going door to door as well, making phone calls. michael was mainly stuffing envelopes. everybody was involved and it was a very wonderful part of the experience. >> what was their reaction when they found out you won? >> this is a long funny story. you should interview them. the night of the election we were so nervous. i thought i would win by a much bigger number. everything was in tumult. i was like, i don't know if this is good. we were waiting to find out. the numbers were taking forever to come in. we were going to the place where we'd walk in. they're in one car. i am in another car. we're walking in. my wife is like, well, did you win or not? i said yeah, i think you won. she said oh, woopee. we were so nervous, we couldn't even enjoy the moment.
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everybody is happy. it's a very, very nice time for us. it's exhausting but it's a very nice time to be back in public service. >> congressman, thank you very much for your time. >> thank you so much. c-span, where history unfold daily. in 1979 c-span was created and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. next postmaster general megan brennan testifies on the future of the postal service. the house oversight committee examined legislation that would relieve the nation's mail service of a $52 billion liability to pre-fund health care plans for its retirees and also allow more flexibility in pricing and marketing against its competitors, like fedex, ups and laser ship. utah congran


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