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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher: I arm-wrestled Vladimir Putin ... and lost!

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Just after the fall of Communism, US and Russian lawmakers met on two fields of battle: the football field, and a pub.

On Thursday, KPCC's Washington correspondent Kitty Felde talked with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher about the Russian proposal on Syria on chemical weapons, of which he very much approves. He also thinks that the Russians should be consulted and take a larger role.

When asked if he'd ever met Putin, he explains that it happened just once, shortly after the fall of the USSR. But then the story got juicier:

"About 1990 or 1991, communism had just fallen. The Soviet Union back now was Russia, and a group of young political leaders came into my office. They wanted to meet me because I'd been Reagan's speechwriter," said Rohrabacher. "I asked them, 'By the way I'm spending the weekend here, if you want to play some American football with me and my buddies?" 

Three of his new Russian friends said yes, one of which was Putin. 

"I didn't know who he was then. He was the Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg. That's all we knew, but he did have a huge bodyguard, so that did sort of give one a little hint that maybe he's more important than just St. Petersburg. So we went out and we played touch football and Scooter Libby was one of the players. A bunch of my right wing friends were there. 

"We all ended up going to this Irish Times Pub afterwards. And we were having a little bit too much to drink, I guess. 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 to these arm wrestling matches, and I ended up being paired off with Putin. He's a little guy, but boy, I'll tell yea. He put me down in a millisecond! He is tough. His muscles are just unbelievable. 

"So then his bodyguard gets up with this buddy of mine, says 'Oh I'll take him,' and my friend put [Putin's] bodyguard down. It was good. You know, he's a tough guy. And he's supposed to be a tough guy, that's what the Russian people want. But that's no reason why we shouldn't try to work with him. 

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