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Doppelgangers Cause Confusion on Capitol Hill

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Doppelgangers Cause Confusion on Capitol Hill

Doppelgangers Cause Confusion on Capitol Hill

Doppelgangers Cause Confusion on Capitol Hill

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5587385/5587657" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) attends a press conference in Baghdad during a 2005 visit by a congressional delegation. Ceerwan Aziz-Pool/Getty Images hide caption

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Ceerwan Aziz-Pool/Getty Images

Tom Tancredo, a Republican congressman from Colorado, has become close friends with look-alike Steve King. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Congressmen Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Iowa's Steve King are two outspoken Republicans often seen speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives. They also bear a striking enough resemblance to each other that they have confused reporters, other members of Congress and even their own wives.

Steve King says it's tough being a second-term congressman: He lacks seniority and is still trying to figure out how Capitol Hill works.

But every once in a while, the work pays off, as it did for King when a former congressman congratulated him for doing a great job.

King recalls that when the two finished talking, the former congressman said, "Thanks, Tom."

"At that point, you don't call him back and do this all over," King says. "You just say 'You're welcome,' or 'See you later.'"

Welcome to life as a second-term congressman when you look exactly like a different congressman — Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

"I've always wondered if he's ever given an interview as Tom Tancredo," the Colorado congressman says. "I know I've given plenty as Steve King."

Tancredo is joking, but both men admit they've given several interviews to reporters who appear unsure about which politician they're talking to. This could be a big problem, if not for the fact that King and Tancredo — both Republicans — are in almost total agreement on all issues.

"Certainly, immigration is one of his big topics," says Tancredo. "It's certainly mine and we are absolutely copasetic on everything. It is odd. I admit it's odd."

They get along so well, some reporters like to joke that they may have been separated at birth.

Standing next to each other, King and Tancredo actually don't look all that similar. But if you run into one without the other nearby, it's another story. They both stand a little less than six feet tall and have the same bulbous nose and the beginnings of a comb-over. Even their wives have mixed them up in crowded rooms. The men switched nametags once at the White House Christmas party and nobody noticed.

"They key to telling them apart is that Steve King has sort of very blue eyes and Tom Tancredo does not," says John Allen, who covers Congress for The Hill newspaper. "So if you can get a good look at their faces, Mr. King's eyes jump out."