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Friday, April 13, 2012 - 11:30am

Beyond The Call Of Duty: A Short List Of Heroic Acts By Politicians

Updated: 2 years ago.
Sen. Bill Frist, left, gives a mock smallpox vaccine during a training session in 2003. Frist, a surgeon, once gave CPR to a visitor who collapsed in a Senate office building.

After rescuing his neighbor from a burning building, Newark Mayor Cory Booker joins an elite list of politicians who have performed heroic acts while in office. While it's inspiring any time a stranger reaches out to help someone, it's not often the person risking his or her life happens to be an elected official.

We've compiled a partial list of past heroic feats performed by pols.

Not all of them have suffered burns like Booker or had their teeth knocked out like Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who sustained injuries while trying to defend an elderly woman. But each has helped redeem the much maligned image of elected officials, showing that along with their political credentials they can also be good Samaritans.

Sen. Bill Frist

People Magazine dubbed former Sen. Bill Frist "Healer on the Hill" in 1995 when he performed CPR on a preacher who collapsed from a heart attack while visiting a Senate building. Hill staffers immediately knew who to call the Tennessee Republican is also a board-certified surgeon.

Frist then worked to resuscitate the 60-year-old minister, performing CPR and other life-saving measures. A witness recalled that Frist "was working so hard he was perspiring."

People Magazine posted a photo of the two later meeting at a local hospital, saying that even then the minister didn't lose sight of the senator's influence and lobbied Frist on behalf of a teen shelter he ran in Cleveland.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Governator wasn't off duty even while on vacation with his family in 2004 at the Four Seasons Resort in Maui. The former actor sensed a fellow swimmer's life was in danger and swam over to check on him. The man told Schwarzenegger that he "felt cramps all over." That was enough for the former body builder to swing into action. Witnesses say the governor took charge, throwing the man onto a boogie board and swimming him safely back to shore.

Gov. Mike Huckabee

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee performed the Heimlich manuever on another Republican politician during a lunch in 2008. The victim, Robert Pittenger, was running for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. The former Arkansas governor noticed someone else incorrectly attempting to administer the Heimlich and politely intervened. After Huckabee gave the candidate a life-saving squeeze, he later said, "I didn't want to see ... this incredibly very valuable political career cut short by a piece of chicken."

Pittenger did not win office that year, but this campaign season he's running again, this time for a North Carolina congressional seat.

Gov. Mitt Romney

With the former Massachusetts governor running for president this year, stories of his altruism are being uncovered. His campaign may want to focus on a particular night back in 2003. The then-governor was with two of his sons, Craig and Josh, at their New Hampshire lakeside summer home when they heard cries for help. The three men hopped onto their Jet Skis, tore into the midst of the lake and rescued six people and their dog from the water after their boat sprang a leak.

A local newspaper reported that the Romneys grabbed the terrier from the water first because it was the only one without a life jacket. It wasn't the first time Romney came to the rescue of people in distress. Years before he helped out a group of kayakers on that same lake.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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