The Capitol is a long way from home for Nancy Cordes.
“It helps to have that Hawaii laid-back attitude when people are constantly slinging barbs at each other on Capitol Hill,” says the CBS News congressional correspondent.
“I went to the same high school that President Obama went to,” the TV journalist explains. “We had the same homeroom teacher all four years, just at different times.”
Now, Cordes’s kids, 5-year-old Lila, and Noah, 4, are under the impression that their mom is working very closely with her fellow high school alumnus. “My kids think that I work with Barack Obama and [Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)]. They think that they can talk to me when they see me on TV,” she says with a laugh. “They will run up to the television when they see me and say, ‘Mommy, Mommy, I need to tell you something.’ ”
And that’s not all her Washington-bred clan believes: “They think my job is to keep the government open. They were scarred by those three weeks when the government was shut down and their mommy was not around.”
On typical days (and during government shutdowns), Cordes is likely to be seen wearing a bright-colored dress or a blazer and black pants. But it’s her footwear that can sometimes prove problematic: “I love heels, but the Capitol’s marble floors are treacherous. I have wiped out more than once. So I tend to stick with a mid-height heel.”
Any time off the clock means a break for Cordes’s toes. “When I’m not working, I’m in flip-flops as much as possible,” she said. “Part of my Hawaiian heritage, I guess.”
The discount shopping addict says she’s “allergic to anything that is not on sale,” and tries to squeeze in a run outside when she can. But, she admits, “I spend a lot of time planning exercise and not that much time actually doing it.”
Cordes describes her diet as “aspirational,” saying she prefers to bring food from home as much as possible so she’s not “tempted by the various snack bars that are dotted all over the Hill.” Blue corn chips from the Refectory and quesadillas from the Senate Carryout have been known to be among those temptations.
While Cordes “loves” to fantasize about heading back to Hawaii, she notes, “It doesn’t appear the U.S. Capitol will be moving there anytime soon.”
She smiles when she says, “If someday you look at the Russell rotunda and you don’t see me there, you’ll know where I’ve gone.”
— Judy Kurtz