WASHINGTON – Actor and human rights activist Richard Gere said some Republicans are “real jerks” and some on Capitol Hill “should be spanked.”
Gere’s comments were made during a speech at a ceremony honoring retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) for her service in the House of Representatives since 1989 and dedication to international human rights. Ros-Lehtinen was the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress.
“She’s continually emotional, as you all know. She’s continually talking, as you all know, but I get no sense that she’s got to change the world today. She’s in it for the long run and that’s how wonderful things happen, when it comes from that deep place in the heart that’s not about you or what you are going to achieve but really whatever it takes to skillfully make something happen without other damage around it,” Gere said about Ros-Lehtinen at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s annual gala Wednesday.
“And that’s another thing, when I’ve watched her in action on the Hill, yeah, she’s a Republican and, yeah, there’s some real jerks there and there’s some people who should be spanked, but she’s very generous in the process of being a bulldozer and a bulldog to get done what has to get done,” he added. “And it’s inspiring to see someone who has this attitude of joy within this process.”
According to Federal Election Commission records, Gere has contributed to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Gere praised Ros-Lehtinen’s husband, Dexter, for his speech at the ceremony describing his wife as someone who is not captured by anger.
“You’re captured by compassion. Compassion is different than empathy. Empathy is a dead end. Empathy is I feel your pain, but it doesn’t take you anywhere. Compassion is that turned into action, and the highest levels of compassion are skillful and completely altruistic,” he said. “And Ileana has that quality; that’s why she has that kind of effect on people and on situations.”
Gere also lauded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who he said has been ably mentored by Ros-Lehtinen. Rubio used to be an intern for the congresswoman.
“I’m incredibly moved by what she has done in the human rights world and the people who have come through her office, also, including Marco Rubio, who is a real star in the human rights world. He learned it from her and the depth of where he’s coming from, he learned from her,” Gere said.
Following the speech, Gere declined to answer any follow-up questions.