Friday, May 12, 2006

Hagel Speaks at Polish Embassy

The Hill had an interesting short piece about Senator Hagel yesterday.

Call me Sen. Hagelski

Looks like Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is making a pitch for the Polish-American vote as he ponders running for president in 2008.

Hagel, whose state contains only 62,475 of the 8.97 million Americans of Polish descent recorded in the 2000 census, was the featured speaker at a Polish Embassy luncheon Friday to mark the 215th anniversary of the Polish Constitution, the world’s second oldest, behind the American Constitution.

Hagel said he is proud of his Polish heritage and noted that his grandmother emigrated to the United States from Poland with her parents and 13 siblings. “They were very busy in those days,” he quipped. Hagel’s grandmother’s name was Koukelewski; Hagel’s name is German.

To bolster his Polish ties, Hagel brought with him part of “the little Polish cabal in my office,” Banking Committee Staff Director Joe Cwiklinski (“Now, there’s a Polish name,” he said) and Rexon Ryu, counsel to the Foreign Relations Committee, whose name isn’t Polish but his mother is.

Hagel’s Polish ties could be a political asset in New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the five vote-rich states with the largest Polish-American population.

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