WASHINGTON (AP) — After crisscrossing the country to bolster fellow Republicans, a Louisiana congressman who was shot at a congressional baseball practice last year squeezed in a publicity tour for his new book about his survival and recovery before returning to work in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise did a flurry of television interviews about "Back in the Game: One Gunman, Countless Heroes and the Fight For My Life" before heading back to Capitol Hill for the first time since Democratic victories flipped control of the U.S. House, The Advocate reported .
Scalise's book, which comes out Tuesday, offers a moment-by-moment account of a gunman's June 2017 attack on the Republican congressional baseball practice in suburban Washington. A single rifle shot crushed Scalise's hip and did massive damage to his internal organs. The Jefferson Parish lawmaker spent months confined to a hospital, where infections repeatedly threatened his life. He endured intense physical therapy to relearn how to walk.
Scalise, 53, told the newspaper that visitors to his hospital room repeatedly suggested he should write an account of his survival. The congressman said he didn't take the proposition seriously until Utah Republican and best-selling author U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart urged him to consider it.
Along with a co-author, Scalise said he went back to interview some the people present at the baseball practice or involved in his recovery to get their versions of the story and piece back together everything that happened.
"In a lot of ways, it was therapeutic for me because it allowed me to relive the experience in a different way, from different perspectives that I didn't see," Scalise said.
Scalise squeezed in a brief publicity tour for the book between "a really aggressive campaign season" and returning to work in Congress.
One campaign he says he's not plotting: a 2019 race to challenge Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Scalise again denied any interest in running against Edwards, as he has multiple times over the past year.
Scalise is running unopposed for House minority whip, which would make him the No. 2 House Republican. That's a step up in party leadership but carries less legislative clout than his current job of House majority whip.
"We're already talking about what we've got to do to get the majority back and, in the meantime, what's going to be ahead with (Rep. Nancy) Pelosi (D-California) as speaker," said Scalise. He also suggested that cutting federal spending will now become a top priority with his party in the minority.
"I really think we need to go back and regain our mantle as the party of fiscal discipline because I do think we lost that over the last few years," said Scalise.