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tv   New Member Interviews - Former Journalists  CSPAN  February 20, 2021 11:03pm-11:43pm EST

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she did a literatey program for us every year. he was here for events all the time. it really was like their second home. we want to remember them here. we got to enjoy their company for so long here in town. announcer: c-span's washington journal. every day we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day and policy issues that impact you. coming up sunday morning, the editor in chief at the gal up news team. and defense one executive editor on efforts to keep extremists out of the military and a university prefer discussing the history of racial inequality in public health. watch live at 7:00 eastern sunday morning and be sure to join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, texts and tweets.
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>> on january 3, more than 60 new members of congress were sworn into served in the u.s. house of representatives. in the weeks since taking their oath, these members have been part of history. their first few weeks included debating challenges to electoral college votes, surviving an attack on the u.s. capitol, and voting on whether to impeach the president of the united states. before these historical events, we spoke to several new members about what brought them to congress and what life experiences and influences have shaped them. here are three of those new members who worked as journalists for running for office. maria elvira salazar is a republican representing florida's congressional district which includes miami beach. she talked about her three-decade career as a journalist and being raised by parents who fled fidel castro's cuba. she is one of five new members from florida, all of them republicans. new members
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from florida, all of them republicans. >> most people recognize you from television. you had a long career in broadcast journalism. tell us about your career over the years. representative salazar i had a fantastic run. first of all, it is wonderful to be talking to you. my career was extremely gratifying. i worked for spanish television for 35 years, univision and telemundo, because those networks gave me great opportunities to travel the world and cover very important events. for instance, i was able to be central american bureau chief for univision, covering the central american war in el salvador against the guerrilla movement. i lived in el salvador and while i was there, i was covering the war in nicaragua between this
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send an east's and contras. -- sandinistas and contras. there was also a marxist guerrilla trying to take over the government in guatemala. besides that, i was able to live in or travel to every latin american country in the hemisphere, covering political and social unrest are situations -- unrest or situations. after that, after being a war correspondent and political correspondent for 20 years, i had my own program called "maria l virus live" for another 20 years, at 8:00 at night, prime time -- "maria elvira live" for another 20 years at
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8:00 at night run time. i was so close to the spanish television audience for so many years, it gave me the possibility of transferring those viewers into voters. people who were voting for me new of me years before. i am extremely grateful to this industry end of the possibility that i was able to have a fantastic eye-opener career as a journalist before coming to the capitol. interviewer: a 35 year career as an accomplishment. how did you get started? representative salazar i got started because my father was on television in puerto rico. i was able to leave in puerto rico for a few years while i was in grade school. and my dad had a television show in pr. my parents are political refugees. they left cuba when they were 25. they couldn't find a job anywhere else except er. -- except pr. we want up there for a few years.
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my dad was a television presenter. so at 13 years old, i was in front of the cameras while i was accompanying him to do his show. so that is when it started i always knew i wanted to be in television, that i wanted to use my knowledge and my mind and think and be able to do a job on tv that required some type of thinking. so that is why broadcast journalism was the place to be. interviewer: you talked about some of the places journalism has taken you through travels, do you have a memorable moment throughout your career? representative salazar: every time somebody asks me that, i think about the lady in ecuador who had leprosy. i am sure you have never seen somebody who had leprosy or who suffers from that disease. i was going into a restaurant after i worked all day and i had just sent my package via satellite at that time, you had to go to a place and send it.
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now, you do it digitally. and i was walking into this restaurant and i saw this lady, this girl around six or seven years old, and she was carrying a baby. and i said you are a baby carrying another baby, where is your mom? as you pointed, and the mama was half a block away, and i said, let's talk to your mom, typical journalist, let me go talk to your mom. and the mom was all wrapped up. she looked as a big bundle, all covered, her face and her body. and i said senora, i couldn't understand how she had allowed her six-year-old baby to carry the two-week old baby. and when she uncovered herself, i saw her face and arms and i have never forgotten about it.
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i realized she was suffering from leprosy. so i went to the restaurant and i said, give me three or four steaks, and cut them up so i can get some meat in this lady. they didn't want to, but they did, so i go back and i brought her this meal, a feast, i am sure she had never eaten so well, with french fries. and i was there and i ate with them at that the. we were all eating with our hands. but those are the moments that situate you. and they are those moments when you realize how blessed you are and the country we live in, and that is one of the reasons i ran and i one, because i believe the american agenda is still the best and you have the best opportunities for you to be a prosperous human being and a decent citizen. interviewer: when was the moment you realize you wanted to move
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on from news and enter politics? representative salazar: when i started realizing that there were forces in this country saying that democratic socialism is the way to go, that that is the right ideology. we come from a human ground -- from acumen background. i just told you my parents were political refugees and we saw that dogma that promises something in theory, but when it comes to practice, it is miserable. and that is the reason i decided i wanted to join politics, to try to make changes and prevent from that ideology taking place in this country. interviewer: when did you decide you wanted to be a republican? representative salazar: i was always republican because as i said, we are cuban-americans. and remember, the democratic party has not been as forceful against the cuban revolution as the republicans half.
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at for us, the cuban revolution is something we carry in our hearts and is a very important topic. it is a pending topic that has not been closed, or has not been taken care of in favor of the cuban people, which is liberty and freedom. interviewer: you spoke about your family and their influence, especially within politics. tell me about your early life and where you grew up. representative salazar: i was born in miami, florida. a few years after i was born, we moved to the island of puerto rico. and i went to grammar school there. there is where i learned to speak spanish, learning to speak it and write it, when i was working for univision and telemundo. we came back to miami when i was 14 and i went to high school in miami. after that, i went to harvard,
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the john f. kennedy school of government, to get a masters in political economy. interviewer: i didn't mean to interrupt. representative salazar: that was it. and then, we came back to miami and i studied and i started working when i was 22 years old, in what was the local affiliate for univision at the time. interviewer: who would you say is the most influential person in your life? representative salazar: i would say that my grandmother l virus -- elvira, i carry her name. she was a very strong force, or influence, in my life. she shaped me. she shaped my character, shaped my ideology, and i am sure she would be very proud seeing me and what i am doing right now as a member of congress, fighting those forces that destroyed her life. interviewer: tell me about your
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district, florida's 27th district. representative salazar: it is the ultimate melting pot. you have the hispanics, cubans, african-americans, white americans, and you have within the hispanic group, central americans, hondurans, guatemalans, puerto ricans, peruvians, ecuadorians, venezuelans, argentinians, and we all live in peace, love each other, along with african-americans and the anglo-americans. and it is really the face of america. but sharing the view that the united states is a fantastic country, and that we all have to fight for its betterment and its prosperity. interviewer: can you lay out some issues you are facing in your district? representative salazar: basically, jobs.
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we need to bring back jobs. we need to give opportunity to all those immigrant communities to be part of the american dream. and that is why i am very much focused as a congresswoman in giving that opportunity, whether it is to become a vendor of the federal government, or finding a better job or learning how to do something, and apprenticeship paid by the government, something that can give you the instruments to be independent and not have to depend on government assistance. interviewer: what is the freedom force, to you? what does it mean to you? representative salazar: the freedom force is this group of new freshmen people who just got elected, and that we are bonded together for the love of this country, and a group of people that understand that the american agenda is the way to go and that democratic socialism only brings misery, oppression and exile.
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and it is our duty, it is our quest, our agenda, to send those messages to the other party and the rest of the american public and tell them we lived what big government brings. and if big government were to be so wonderful, then venezuela should look like switzerland. interviewer: as part of the new 117th congress, what are some of your priorities? representative salazar: my top priority is what i just told you, to keep on sending the message to the american people that we have a fantastic system that needs to evolve. we don't need a revolution, we need an evolution. and second is to take care of immigration. the gop has a new face and the new face of america, and hispanics need to understand
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that we have the same values that are entrenched in the gop. it is just letting them know and sending that message and communicating with 50 million hispanics that compose the largest minority in the country, 18% of the population. so for the gop, it is a good option. interviewer: you are a first-time politician. what are you most excited about? representative salazar: well, i consider myself not so much a politician, but a public servant. i just came here to help the people that live in district number 27. i really don't feel i want to be anybody. i want to do anything and help others, or be a team player, and help my party send the right message and help this country continue being what it is, or
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what it has been for the last 300 years. interviewer: tell us about your family. you have two doctors. -- daughtes. how are you -- you have two daughters. how are you going to balance that? representative salazar: my daughters are 20 and 21 and i don't think they are that interested in hanging with me anymore. they are going to gw university. unfortunately, gw is online, but i imagine by summer, it will be back, so i will be able to see them more often. let's see about the reality if they want to be with mom at night. but that is my best job. i have great children, nichola and martina. they are fantastic people and i am very proud i did that so well.
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i certainly hope that i could be a public servant and i could serve my people the same way i raised those two kids. i will be, then, very, very happy and satisfied that i did my job well as a public servant. interviewer: are there any committees you are looking forward to being part of in congress? representative salazar: i would like to be on the foreign relations committee because it comes easy to me. the western hemisphere committee would be very apropos for my type of work and the experience i have gathered 35 years as a journalist. representative salazar: congresswoman maria elvira salazar, thanks for joining us today. representative salazar: thanks for giving me the opportunity. >> ashley hinson also worked as a broadcast journalist, most recently in cedar rapids, iowa. she is the district, which includes her home of marion.
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in 2016, she won a seat in the iui house of representatives. she's one of three new members from the hawkeye state and one of a dozen republicans who meet -- to beat incumbent democrats in the 2020 election. interviewer: you are in d.c. for orientation. me some thoughts. representative hinson: it is finally exciting to get to work. i am excited the election is now in the past and i am moving forward and not getting my office set up and getting my bearings, making sure i know where to go and can best survive and start right away january 3. interviewer: tell us about your background, family life, early life. let us get to know you as a person. representative hinson: i am and iowan at heart. i was born and raised in des moines. i am a millennial and wanted to get out of the state and experience what the world had to offer. i went to southern california for school. quickly realized that is not
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where i wanted to end up long-term to raise my family and have my career. i worked my way back to iowa. i have been in cedar rapids for 15 years. my husband owns a small business and my two kids are max and jack, nine and seven. i am a multitasking working mom who wants to serve in congress and i am excited to realize that dream. interviewer: you went to usc and have a degree in broadcast journalism. you started in the news in cedar rapids as an anchorwoman. how did you make the transition from news to politics, and how did that come about? representative hinson: there are a lot of synergies when you look at being a journalist and being a good legislator. it comes down to asking questions, setting policy and the way i chose to look at it was, instead of putting together a story, i put together a dell. -- a bill. i got to the point where wanted
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to stop talking about it, i interviewed people at the capitol building many times, the reporter on the steps at 5:00 a.m. doing the interviews and i got to the point where, i could be a good voice for my constituents and at heart, i am a journalist, i love to tell stories of the people i talk with and that is what i tried to do as a legislator. it was 2015 when i decided to take that step and move into the statehouse. and i have really enjoyed serving my constituents there and i think this was a good step and, ready to serve more people in the first district. interviewer: how does it feel to not be on the other side of the camera and being the one who is getting all the questions day in and day out? representative hinson: what i bring to the table as a former journalist's perspective with the media. i understand how important getting your message to constituents is. one thing i always did at the
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statehouse, i talked regularly to reporters about issues we were working on, answering questions, being transparent about things, and that is the thing i'm doing here too. i have agreed to do a weekly press call so people can ask questions, and here i am on c-span. from the other side, i know how important getting that perspective to viewers is, so that is why i try to engage with media whenever possible to make sure i am able to effectively communicate. it is interesting because i'm being asked questions instead of asking the questions. interviewer: eight is a bit of a switch. you are serving the first district, northeastern iowa, cedar rapids, waterloo, dubuque. tell us about the needs of the area and what you hope to bring to washington with you as far as priorities for your district. representative hinson: the
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district is made up of agriculture, business, manufacturing, you name it, we have it in the first district. that is what is so exciting about going to serve, that there are so many policy areas where i know i can be helpful. i am occurred state representative vent and continuing that work until the end of the year, but it is amazing to me, the feedback, emails, calls i am getting about small business issues going forward. right around half the jobs if not more in the district are provided by small businesses. i want to make sure everything i am doing as a policymaker helps support those jobs and families because it comes down to livelihoods that are truly at stake and it is a challenging time for our country. what the district needs is making sure we are taking care of people who have found it challenging year because of the pandemic. that is one thing a want to get
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to work for, fighting for small businesses, fighting her taxes. our farmers are the backbones of our economy and iowa and there are so many jobs in the agriculture industry supported through the district, whether you are in the field or in the processing plants. so i hope to bring that perspective to the table to advocate for iowa weekend grow and be successful and everybody has a chance at a good life. interviewer: you beat the democratic incumbent in your district. do you think that, or what do you think led to you coming up with a victory in this race? representative hinson: straight up hard work. i went out through the district, put 60,000 miles on my minivan going and meeting with people, listening to their challenges. that is where congress failed the last several years, they
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seem to be out of touch with what people want. when i look at what is happening this week, they want to bring an marijuana bill to the floor when we need to be talking about small business relief. i have heard over and over the people were tired of that. when i was up talking with people, i am confident i can come here to congress and tell their stories. that is what people want in a representative. and i am a mom who drives a minivan, i am a multitasker dealing with the same challenges families are dealing with throughout the first district and having that perspective matters and being able to relate to the person who is your voice is how it should be. you want someone who is like you being your advocate in congress. i think that is what i brought to the table and voters recognize that in addition to my professional experience. interviewer: where do you think your conservative viewpoints come from? representative hinson: i was always a conservative. it is funny, my mom, when i ran
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for office, pulled out a paper from one of my high school composition classes and it was about welfare. i look back at the value of hard work, understanding the value of a dollar, and i never did want for anything but i also had to work for everything. that was instilled in me and i have tried to carry that through my entire life. i have been a conservative my whole life and work hard to make sure i run an effective life and hopefully help our government the more effective and efficient. interviewer: you said you are a minivan driving mom. a lot of us are moms. how do you plan to balance that when you get to d.c.. you have a nine and a seven-year-old. representative hinson: time is a wonderful thing. i am able to pick up the phone and call them. they have done the same thing to me when they need me to fix
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something from afar. technology has been a great gift to telecommuting parents. we have a grid system in place, great family, my husband is a fantastic dad and i wouldn't be able to do this without his port at home, because he is back home man in homeschool while i am training to be a new member of congress. we have a great system and they love school, love their friends, i love our life in iowa, so we are going to make it work. and it is the right move for our family right now and if we make changes, we will figure it out along the way. interviewer: how do your boys feel about you becoming a member of congress? representative hinson: they are excited. yesterday, i had to do my official signature and on the way into the building, before they started homeschool, i facetimed them from the capital and they think it is cool to say
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to their friends and teachers, my mom is going to be a member of congress. definitely a neat experience, front-row seat to our country's history. interviewer: in november, you tested positive for covid-19. how has that impacted you at how will that impact your work when you get to washington? representative hinson: it is perspective, i understand the quarantine process, and my family as well. that was the second time in the past six month i had to quarantine. i was exposed in august. so i understand what challenges this pandemic presents to a family. that is the perspective, so when i am advocating for people, i want to make sure we are being safe, our health care system has what it needs. i didn't have a severe case but i had friends who died from coronavirus, so i understand how
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serious it can. be. interviewer: representative elect ashley hinson, thanks for your time and we look forward to your work in the 117th congress. >> scott fitzgerald owned a local newspaper in wisconsin before entering politics in 1995, when he was elected to state senate erie he rose to become the top republican in the chamber, including for the last seven years as majority leader. now, he represents wisconsin's fifth congressional district, following jim sensenbrenner. interviewer: where did you grow up in wisconsin? representative fitzgerald: outside milwaukee in a couple rural counties, dodge, jefferson county, that area, a little town called used his ford -- eustis forward is wearing what ties school. interviewer: what was growing up
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in a small town like? representative fitzgerald: it was wonderful. wonderful. one of the odd things, i guess, was that my father was both chief of police in the small village and sheriff in dodge county, wisconsin, which is kind of how i got my start in politics. growing up as the son of a police officer and sheriff is a unique experience. interviewer: i imagine you were under a lot of scrutiny as a child. representative fitzgerald: i guess you could say that. interviewer: was it hard to be the son of a law enforcement officer? representative fitzgerald: no. both my early years growing up in that small they laid and later on going to a small high school, it was a great experience. interviewer: was there anything about your father's job you took personally that help you develop as an adult?
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representative fitzgerald: being the son of someone in law enforcement is a unique experience, because there are situations where you are concerned about your dad in the street, and certainly, you have those conversations about what's going on in the community or county, and it does give you a unique perspective. interviewer: as far as your adult years, many of the years spent in journalism. you started in newspapers. talk about that experience. representative fitzgerald: i went to university of wisconsin oshkosh and got a bachelor's in journalism and went work for a couple of smaller newspapers and ended up opening a small company -- ended up owning a small company that had periodicals, weeklies, did a lot of printing, so was very engaged in
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government. the local level and county government does well, so another opportunity that i think gives me a unique perspective. interviewer: what were those perspectives, from the publishing side? representative fitzgerald: i wrote a column for a number of years. you are engaged at the ground level and issues those newspapers covered. and it gives you perspective on elected officials at that level and how they handled themselves and made decisions and how they worked cooperatively. it was a great training ground for somebody that was going to end up as an elected official themselves, and certainly involved in politics. interviewer: the wisconsin state senate is where he spent a lot of of time. what did you do? representative owens: i was elected in 1994 to a state senate seat and held the seat
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for 26 years until i ran for the fifth congressional. i was very fortunate to have been elected majority leader of my caucus over the last 10 years and was majority leader of the wisconsin state senate throughout that time. a lot has happened in wisconsin the last 10 years, it gave me a very unique perspective on not only government at the state level, but as leader, we went through a lot of changes, including reforms like right to work, act 10, we did a lot of changes around things that dovetailed into the federal government. once again, i like to think it gives me a depth of experience in things i could use going to d.c..
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interviewer: what did you learn about leadership in the state senate? representative fitzgerald: a lot. i learned formally about leadership from my military experience, having served in the army reserve almost 27 years. but leading a political caucus is a different animal. and you need to garner people's trust. and the only way to do that is to make sure that your word is good and that if you have a conversation with a member, then ultimately, you are going to do everything you can to help them excel. and you got to be technically proficient in what you talk about as well. so knowing the ins and outs of the state legislature helped me develop a leadership style. interviewer: what was it like working with members of the opposing party, and how do you cross differences to get things done?
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representative fitzgerald: there is always a level of trust that needs to be garnered with the other side of the aisle. and that can only be done with private and personal conversations. you need to be friends with a few members, not everyone in the caucus, but you need a few people you can go to where, truly, there is a level of trust in which you can get things done. and i was very fortunate to have that kind of relationship with a number of legislators on the other side of the aisle. and it was very beneficial. interviewer: what do you think your largest challenge is going to be, working within the state confines of the senate to the house of representatives? representative fitzgerald: i am not naive. a freshman in the minority in d.c., it is going to take a while to get my bearings.
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but i do have a good understanding of people and personalities and how to work with individuals, and that is what i'm looking forward to most, to get into that conference and garner support and develop friendships with members of my own party. and hopefully that will transcend into the same things working with members of the other party. i left to work with people and left to develop those relationships, and i think it there is anything that is going to be similar between working in the state legislature and the house of representatives, that is no different that you got to work with people and build that trust. interviewer: you are going into a position that was held by representative jim sensenbrenner. have you gotten advice on how to approach the new job? representative fitzgerald: yeah, i was very fortunate to watch
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congressman sensenbrenner probably do the best job you could as a member of the house of representatives. no elected official i have ever had contact with, and i have known congressman sensenbrenner for 25 years, and have watched him and he developed such a rapport with the constituency, whether it was office hours are just tireless effort to work with constituents that had issues, that needed somebody to cut the red tape for them, and congressman sensenbrenner did a wonderful job. that is why the people sent him back to d.c. every two years for many years, a long, stoic career of 40 years. it is going to be big shoes to fill, but i understand the principles of what you need to do to make that happen. i was very fortunate to watch jim sensenbrenner do a wonderful job for many years.
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interviewer: have you come up with a strategy to keep connection with your constituents back home, since he will be in washington? representative fitzgerald: covid-19 has change that dynamic for every elected official, i don't care what level you are serving up, -- serving at, because we are so familiar with fairs and festivals and parades, all the retail stuff any elected official is completely involved in, because of all that being shut down. it has been different. it is a different strategy you have to come up with and it means you are on the phone a lot more, you are doing correspondence much more than you typically would be expected to do, but that is covid-19 in this new dynamic out there. running for congress was a unique experience.
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we were going 100 miles per hour up through mid-march and then, all those events got eliminated. so it is a different strategy. you have to continually be in touch with people in other ways, and that is the uniqueness of the times right now. interviewer: you did mention your military experience. i read you worked with tanks, heavy and light thanks. what kind of jobs did you do? representative fitzgerald: i was an armor officer, commissioned as a second lieutenant, went through army officer basic core, started at fort knox and was around tanks, but was always part of training divisions, kind of a schoolhouse, and that is what most of my career was made up of. i'm very proud of that. a lot of troops we came into contact with, as a company commander and battalion commander, a lot of the training
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we accomplished prepared many soldiers who were deployed overseas. i have always been proud of that part of my career but yeah, it was a long stretch, 20 seven years and i retired as a lt. col. end and very proud of my service. interviewer: members of the freshman class including representative scott fitzgerald of the fifth district of wisconsin, think through time. representative fitzgerald: thank you. good to be with you. >> for comprehensive video and information on the u.s. house and search for remarks from members
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of congress. use maps to follow the cases in the u.s. and worldwide. go to c-span.org/coronavirus. monday night on the communicators. a discussion on court cutting and the pandemic with a senior reform analyst. >> truth be told. quick cutting has not changed much than what it was prepandemic. it continues at the same rate but the adoption of broad band and the need for more speed is benefiting the cable industry broadly. the pandemic has really, you know, clarified that idea. right? even when there is court cutting, the it has benefited the economics of the cable industry. >> watch monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2.

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