We Have All Heard the Alligator-Wrestling Story, Governor

Elections

Former Virginia governor and buddy of the Clintons Terry McAuliffe, apparently convinced that there just aren’t enough Democrats running for president, is hinting that’s he’s going to run for president as well. At the Building Trades Conference in Washington this week, McAuliffe declared, “If I can wrestle an alligator, I can sure as hell wrestle Donald Trump.” McAuliffe is apparently alluding to his alligator-wrestling experience in this tweet this morning.

McAuliffe is excruciatingly fond of this story, stemming back when he was the campaign-finance chairman of Jimmy Carter’s reelection campaign in 1980, and he sought a donation from the Seminole tribe in Florida. In his autobiography, McAuliffe writes that Chief Jim Billie assured him the animal would be toothless and drugged, and only have to last three minutes. But once public interest got high enough, Billie concluded that the attendees would be able to tell, and so McAuliffe ends up wrestling “Jumper,” who was eight-feet long and 260 pounds. Billie assured McAuliffe that as long as he got on the animal’s back and wrapped his arms around the alligator’s mouth, he would be safe: “The muscles he uses to open his mouth are relatively weak, so your only hope is to keep that mouth shut and not let a thumb or finger slip in there.” McAuliffe held on for three minutes, did not lose any fingers, and collected his donation check. There are pictures; McAuliffe posed with another alligator years later.

It’s a funny story. It is also almost 40-years ago and probably not the most important criteria for evaluating a future president.

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