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Sam Gibbons: Washington Politics Isn't Like It Used to Be

Steve Newborn
Sam Gibbons, left, chats with John F. Germany

He's considered a legend in Tampa political circles. Saturday, former Congressman Sam Gibbons regaled an audience with tales of how things used to be in Washington - and how different politics in the nation's capital is today.

He rolls around in a wheelchair now, a long way from the days he strode as a political giant in Tampa. Sam Gibbons is now 92, and he told a standing-room only crowd at the John F. Germany Library tales of his life in politics. He never lost an election - and was re-elected to Congress 16 times, from the 1960s through 1997. But he also had some thoughts about how current politicians are, well, politicized.

"Well, I think it's terrible," he said in a conversation with John Germany. "I think the members of Congress ought to be up in Washington working their fannies off. They're not. They go up there and demonstrate for a day and a half, get back on the airplane, fly back home, and go around making speeches at home. I don't call that governing. That's chaotic."

Back when he was in Washington, Gibbons was instrumental in getting the University of South Florida off the ground. He also helped the then small town of Tampa expand to the limits of the university.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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