Rep. Upton gives niece Kate, Verlander a Capitol tour

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Congressman Fred Upton played the role of relief pitcher Tuesday as he gave Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and fiancee/supermodel Kate Upton a tour of the U.S. Capitol.

Verlander is in town as the Tigers play the Washington Nationals in a three-game series ending Wednesday; he is not scheduled to pitch.

Also making the trip to Washington was his fiancee, Kate, who happens to be the niece of Rep. Upton, Michigan’s senior Republican and the chairman of the powerful U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The tour was first reported by CBS News Capitol Hill producer Walt Cronkite, who shot a photo of the trio in the U.S. Capitol. He is the grandson of legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite.

The engagement to Verlander was reported a week ago.

There was no immediate word about Rep. Upton’s agenda for the couple. But after almost 30 years in the Capitol and the passage of many bills, it’s fair to say Fred Upton made a strong pitch about the federal government’s hallowed halls.

Kate Upton is no stranger to Washington. She celebrated her 21st birthday in 2013 with her uncle and had her photo taken with him and U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, who then promptly posted it on Instragram.

In a February 2012 interview with Fox News, Upton called his niece a “great gal” when she rocketed to fame as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. He joked that her new stardom prompted some people on Capitol Hill to question his lineage.

“I got a lot of my colleagues that are asking if I was adopted,” Upton told Fox News.

As for the Tigers, the change in scenery hasn't helped. The team’s bullpen blew a 2-0 lead for Verlander on Sunday in Detroit, and it gave up the game-winning home run to the Nationals in the ninth inning of Monday night’s game.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing