Posted: May 23, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Whaddaya know, you can get blood from a politician.

Only U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper would send out a press release about it, though.

The press release preceded Carper's visit Monday morning to the Blood Bank of Delmarva, located in Newark across from the Christiana Hospital. It invited reporters to watch that rarest of events -- a politician making a donation.

It turns out that Carper really is a red-blooded American.

Carper, a Democratic governor-turned-senator who is up for election next year, had a good excuse for seeking publicity. He signed up to be the first participant in the Blood Bank's Summer Blood Challenge, an event begun in 2003 to encourage donations during the season when the blood supply usually drops off as people leave town for vacations.

"It's good being first," Carper said.

The Summer Blood Challenge is a competition for employers with points awarded each time their workers give blood, become new Blood Bank members or race on July 23 in the Blood Bank's 5K as a runner or walker. As of Monday, more than 40 groups were participating, Carper's Senate office among them.

If you hold a contest, Carper will come. His competitive streak is right up there with his winning streak, his record of 11 statewide victories unmatched in Delaware politics. At 58, Carper's fire still has him running the Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon, a 13.1-mile course that is Delaware's premier road race.

Not all of Carper's Blood Bank session was open to the press. He did not waive confidentiality for the standard pre-donation interview, which includes questions about sexual activity, drug use and prison time. If there is anything that his wife Martha needs to know, she will not read it here.

Carper did disclose his blood type. Big surprise, he is a Type A. Not only that, he is a Type A positive.

Carper's blood donation and press release may be apt for his next campaign. The Republicans are thinking of running state Sen. Colin R.J. Bonini against him. Earlier this year Bonini, a 40-year-old Dover Republican, sent out a press release when he went on a diet.

Bonini, like Carper, said he was doing it for a good cause, in his case asking for pledges to the Kent County SPCA for every pound he dropped. He conceded, however, that he needed to lose 100 pounds if he wanted to run for statewide office.

Carper and Bonini could give a whole new meaning to the body politic.

Maybe there is a message here, too. A Republican will cut out the fat, but a Democrat will give blood.