Gary Sinise declines Newt Gingrich suggestion he lead Veterans Affairs

Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise, who starred as Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump," plays for veterans' causes with his Lt. Dan Band.

Thanks, Newt Gingrich, but while veterans are a big part of actor Gary Sinise’s life these days, he’s not quite ready or inclined to take on the role of secretary of veterans affairs — or enter politics, for that matter.

One day after former Speaker of the House Gingrich was quoted in a conservative publication as saying that if presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is elected he should tap Sinise to be his secretary of veterans affairs, Sinise politely said Thursday that he wasn’t interested.

“I’m flattered” that Gingrich would suggest it, Sinise, 57, told the New Haven Register in an interview for an upcoming story for Digital First Media’s yearlong American Homecomings veterans project.

But “I don’t think politics is something that is for me,” said Sinise, who has made a name for himself far beyond his acting with his work to support and entertain veterans with his Lt. Dan Band, both on USO trips to overseas war zones and at home through his Gary Sinise Foundation.

Sinise was reacting to Gingrich’s suggestion in a story Wednesday in Human Events, a conservative website and weekly newspaper.

Gingrich said that Sinise cares deeply for military veterans and could bring fresh eyes to the job.

“We know Gary and we very much admire what he’s done,” Gingrich was quoted as saying. “You don’t need, and I say this with all due respect to (current VA Secretary) General (Eric) Shinseki … you do not need to have a better bureaucrat. What you want first of all is a passion focused on the veteran, not the bureaucrat.”

Sinise, who is best known for his roles as Lt. Dan Taylor in “Forrest Gump,” the 1994 blockbuster movie, and Detective Mac Taylor on the “CSI: New York” television show, said he understood how Gingrich might think otherwise.

“Because I’m supporting our veterans … it might be perceived that I have aspirations beyond what I’m doing,” said Sinise.

But politics are not why Sinise does what he does, he said.

“I don’t have any political leanings and aspirations or anything like that…” he said. “That’s just not something I’d ever want to do.”

Contact Mark Zaretsky at Follows him on Twitter @markzar.

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  • Anonymous

    Thank you Gary for YOUR HONESTY !!!! You are doing a great job helping OUR veterans !!! Thank You again!!!