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Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown's wife won't let him speak Russian in public

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is a Russophile — and he seems a little touchy about what that might imply.

The potential 2020 presidential candidate considers himself a populist and shares views with some of his more left-leaning colleagues, but unlike party up-and-comers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), he's squeamish about being called a socialist, The Atlantic reports in a profile published Thursday.

When asked to describe his political values, Brown cited three quotes: one from the Bible, one from Martin Luther King Jr., and one from Leo Tolstoy. The Russian author's quote mentions the "equality and brotherhood of men," something that reminded The Atlantic's George Packer of American socialist leader Eugene Debs. "Jeez, don't put that down," Brown said of the comparison, before conceding that most people don't remember Debs anymore.

The senator's fascination with Russia goes back to college where he "discovered Tolstoy before he discovered the working class," The Atlantic writes, seeing as he didn't start "hanging around local union halls" until after he majored in Russian studies at Yale University. Brown also picked up the Russian language there — though his wife, journalist Connie Schultz, won't let him speak it in public.

As The Atlantic puts it, Brown's "bookish idealism" founded at Yale "nourished his commitment" to his current populist message. Read more at The Atlantic.