10 Things You Didn't Know About Tom Tancredo
1. Thomas Tancredo was born Dec. 20, 1945, in Denver. A lifelong resident of Colorado, he is the grandson of Italian immigrants.
2. Tancredo's interest in politics developed early. He remembers enjoying the "theatricality" of an eighth-grade assignment in which he portrayed Fidel Castro. In 1960, when he was a student at Holy Family Catholic High School, his class held a mock presidential election. Tancredo was one of only two students who voted for Richard Nixon rather than John F. Kennedy.
3. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado, Tancredo taught civics at Drake Junior High in Arvada, Colo. He met his wife, Jackie, thereshe was a French teacher. Tancredo's political career was launched when, after several years of teaching, his students encouraged him to put his political views into practice. This prompted him to run for the Colorado House of Representatives in 1976.
4. For Tancredo's successful State House run in 1976, his parents helped with the campaign by handing out cards that read "Tancredo's Recipe for Good Government" on one side and had his mother's recipe for spaghetti sauce on the other. Once elected, Tancredo aligned with a group of legislators who called themselves the "House Crazies" for their strictly conservative, sometimes iconoclastic positions.
5. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Tancredo to head the regional office of the Department of Education. At first, Tancredo was reluctant to take the post, since he was in favor of eliminating the department entirely. (He once said that his teaching experience made him "much more patient with the students and much more impatient with the administration of the schools.") Instead, Tancredo took the joband cut the staff from 222 to fewer than 60.
6. As a member of the House of Representatives, Tancredo has made immigration his primary issue, referring to a "cult of multiculturalism" that he believes threatens America. In 1999, he started the Immigration Reform Caucus, which now has 91 members. He has, however, clashed with his own party over immigration. He has criticized President Bush as well as some of his fellow House members if he feels they are not tough enough on immigration. In 2002, Bush political adviser Karl Rove told him not to "darken the doorstep of the White House."
7. Tancredo has made provocative statements on a wide range of topics, suggesting that the United States might retaliate against a terrorist attack by bombing Mecca, voting against federal funding for Hurricane Katrina relief, and comparing Miami to a Third World country. He admits that his remarks are often intended to get a reaction and is fond of quoting a line from the 1959 western Rio Bravo"That oughta start something."
8. Tancredo says that one of his proudest accomplishments is his work to end genocide in Sudan. He has worked with allies from both parties to raise awareness and to cosponsor legislation aimed at ending genocide in the Darfur region. Tancredo, who has been called a "congressional champion" for the region, first became an advocate for Darfur years ago when he saw a presentation at his church.
9. Tancredo's controversial positions on immigration policy earned him the nickname "Tancrazy" from Esquire magazine, which called him one of the "worst members of Congress." Tancredo called the nickname "kind of cute, kind of interesting" and said "it's flattering to be identified." He has said that it is "delusional" to think he could win the presidency, but he hopes that his candidacy will force other hopefuls to discuss immigration and border security.
10. Tancredo has been married since 1977. They have two sons, Ray and Randy, and five grandchildren. When not in Washington, the Tancredos make their home in Littleton, Colo. Tancredo's hobbies include trap and skeet shooting, and he also enjoys playing ball and riding bikes with his grandsons.
- Carroll's Federal Directory
- Denver Post
- Denver Westword
- The Hill
- Los Angeles Times
- National Journal Almanac of American Politics 2006
- Rep. Brian Bilbray press release (2/6/07)
- Rocky Mountain News
- Tancredo House website