Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson didn’t start out wanting to be Governor of California. He recalled a dinner with his father in New York City, shortly before he graduated college. When his father asked him what he wanted to do with his life, Wilson said he replied, “I don’t know but I want to do it here.” Wilson also noted, “I can remember telling my mother once that I wished I had five lives, because there were five things I wanted to do. None of them, by the way, consisted of holding office.” Read more about Wilson below.

Q. What music have you listened to today?
A. Nothing. It’s all too many days that are like that…. I’m about to make the purchase of an iPod to cure that.

Q. What is your favorite word?
A. Freedom.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. An adult.

Q. What is your favorite cocktail?
A. I’m sort of an equal opportunity drinker. What I drink most often is probably gin and tonic.

Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. Spending time unwisely.

Q. What is the last thing that inspired you?
A. There is a wonderful man here in Los Angeles who is very bright…. One of the things that he has done that inspires my admiration and my gratitude is that he has undertaken to pay for the extraordinary care that can be given to young soldiers, who have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan really grievously disfigured from their wounds….

Q. What is your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
A. If I were a real smartass, I’d say leaving it. Los Angeles has much to offer. It is an exciting business center. It is a vast sprawling network of different and wonderful neighborhoods. The weather for the most part is marvelous. There are world-class educational institutions, world-class research and medical centers, and I mentioned generosity a moment ago. God knows there is a great amount of generosity….

Q. What is the best advice you have ever received?
A. I think the best advice I’ve ever received was from my father when he said, ‘Don’t kid yourself.’ He said, ‘You’re too smart not to know when you haven’t done what you should. Don’t kid yourself.’

Q. If you could take only one more journey, where would you go?
A. One of the places I would like to go is South Africa.

Q. What is your fondest childhood memory?
A. Up until about the 6th grade I was actually one of the largest kids in my class. Then it all stopped. Someone suggested that’s maybe why I got into politics. I, like most kids, loved athletics. The high point of my athletic career was one afternoon when I struck out 10 men pitching a game, and hit a home run and a triple. I should’ve quit right there.

Q. What is your most prized material possession?
A. My library.

Q. Who is the one person, living or dead, whom you would most like to meet?
A. Winston Churchill.

To read about Wilson’s interview at Zócalo, click here.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido.