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tv   New Member Interviews - Former Journalists  CSPAN  February 21, 2021 2:36pm-3:16pm EST

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democrats can make sure 30 million americans get a raise. >> congress is back with a busy agenda. the major business in the house is the $1.9 trillion covid relief package. it includes an extension of unemployment benefits, a minimum wage hike, funding for individual stimulus checks, and help for state and local governments. footing could begin as early as thursday, a final vote possible friday or over the weekend. democratic leaders aim to have the bill on the president's desk by march 14, when current unemployment benefits expire. the senate spends the early part of the week on cabinet nominations. monday and tuesday they vote on the nomination of linda thomas-greenfield to be ambassador to the united nations and tom vilsack to be agriculture secretary. looking ahead, the senate would take up the covid relief package at the house passes it under reconciliation which does not
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allow filibusters. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span2. >> on january 3, more than 60 new members of congress were sworn in to serve 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 before running for office. maria elvira salazar is a republican representing florida's congressional district 27th 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
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from florida, all of them republicans. host: most people recognize you from television. you have had a long career in broadcast journalism. tell us about your career over the years. rep. 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 two networks gave me great opportunities to travel the world and cover very important events. one of them 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
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war in nicaragua, between the sandinistas and contras. also, the korea -- the guerrilla movement in guatemala, the you are ng -- urng, that 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, or situations. so, after that, after being a war correspondent and political correspondent for 20 years, i had my own program called "maria elvira live" for another 20 years at 8:00 at night prime time on one of the local regional networks in the united states.
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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 knew of me years before. i am extremely grateful to this industry and of the possibility that i was able to have a fantastic eye-opener career as a journalist before coming to the capitol. host: a 35 year career as an accomplishment. do you remember the early days how did you get started? ,rep. 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. you know my parents are , political refugees. they left cuba when they were 25. they couldn't find a job anywhere else except pr.
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we wound up there for a few years. 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. host: you talked about some of the places journalism has taken you, through travels. do you have a memorable moment throughout your career? rep. 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 with 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
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satellite at that time, you had to go to a place and send it. 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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so, i realized she was suffering from leprosy. so i went back to the restaurant and i said, give me three or four steaks, and cut them up so i can give 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 that evening. 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 won, and i ran,
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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. host: when was the moment you realize you wanted to move on from news and enter politics? rep. 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 cuban 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. host: when did you decide you wanted to be a republican? rep. salazar: i was always republican, because, as i said, we are cuban-americans.
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and we remember, the democratic party has not been as forceful against the cuban revolution as the republicans has. 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. host: you spoke about your family and their influence, especially within politics. tell me about your early life and where you grew up. rep. 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 spanish, learning to speak it and write it, when i was working for univision and telemundo. we came back to miami when i was
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14 and i did high school in miami. after that, i went to harvard, the john f. kennedy school of government, to get a masters in political economy. host: you can finish. rep. 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. host: who would you say is the most influential person in your life? rep. salazar: i would say that my grandmother 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
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life. host: tell me about your district, florida's 27th district. rep. 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, nicaraguans 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. host: can you lay out some issues you are facing in your district?
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rep. salazar: basically, jobs. we need to bring back jobs. we need to give an 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, an apprenticeship paid by the government, something that can give you the instruments to be independent and not have to depend on government assistance. host: what is the freedom force, to you? what does it mean to you? rep. 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
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socialism is a fallacy, and that it only brings misery, oppression and exile. 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. host: as part of the new 117th congress, what are some of your priorities? rep. 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.
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i think the gop has a new face and the new face of america, and hispanics need to understand 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. for the gop, it is a good option. host: you are a first-time politician. what are you most excited about? rep. 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 many things and help others, or be a team
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player, and help my party send the right message and help this country continue being what it is, or what it has been for the last 300 years. host: finally, tell us about your family. you have two daughters. how are you going to balance that, making the trip back and forth between miami and the help? -- the hill? rep. salazar: my daughters are 20 and 21 and i don't think they are that interested in hanging with me anymore. coincidently they are going to , gw university. unfortunately, right now, gw is online, but i imagine by summer, gw will be back, so i will be able to see them more often. in theory. 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
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and martina. they are fantastic people and i am very proud i did that so well. 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. host: are there any committees you are looking forward to being part of, in congress? rep. 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 for 35 years as a journalist. rep. salazar: congresswoman maria elvira salazar, thanks for joining us today. rep. salazar: thanks for giving me the opportunity. >> ashley hinson also worked as a broadcast journalist, most recently in cedar rapids, iowa. now, she is the republican
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representing iowa's first congressional district, which includes her home of marion. in 2016, she won a seat in the iowa house of representatives. she's one of three new members from the hawkeye state and one of a dozen republicans who beat incumbent democrats in the 2020 election. host: you are in d.c. for orientation. share with me some thoughts. rep. hinson: it is finally exciting to get to work. i ran for office to stop talking about it and do something about it. so it is nice to have the election 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. host: tell us about your background, family life, early life. let us get to know you as a person. rep. hinson: i am an 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
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for school. quickly realized that is not 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 the cedar rapids area 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. host: 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? rep. 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 -- vetting policy and the way i chose to look at it was, instead of putting together a story, i put together a bill.
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i got to the point where wanted to stop talking about it, i interviewed people at the state capital in des moines 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. so it was 2015 when i decided to , take that step and move into the statehouse. and i won in 2016. 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. host: 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? especially through your campaign recently? rep. hinson: what i bring to the table as a former journalist's perspective with the media. i understand how important soi understand how important getting your message to
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constituents is. so one thing i always did at the , statehouse, i talked regularly with reporters about issues we were working on, answering those questions, being transparent about things, and that is something i am doing here, too. i have agreed to do a weekly press call so people can ask questions to hear where i am on things. 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 still in front of the camera but i being asked questions instead am of asking the questions. host: it is a total flip and i know how that can be. tell us about your district. 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
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to washington with you, as far as priorities for your district. rep. hinson: the district is made up of agriculture, business, manufacturing, you name it, we have it in the first district. and i think that is what is so exciting about going to serve, that there are so many policy areas where i know i can be helpful. just today, this morning, i am a current state representative so i am continuing that work until the end of the are. but it is amazing to me, the feedback, emails, calls i am getting about small business relief 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
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of people who have found it a challenging year because of the pandemic. that is one thing a want to get to work for, fighting for small businesses, fighting for 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 vest advocate for iowa, so we can continue to grow and be successful and everybody has a chance at a good life. host: you beat the democratic incumbent in your district. do you think that led to or what , do you think led to you coming up with a victory in this race? rep. hinson: straight up hard work. i went out through the district, i put 60,000 miles on my minivan in the last year and a half, going out and meeting with people, listening to their challenges.
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that is where congress failed the last several years, they 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. so, when i was out talking with people, it comes down to i am confident i can come here to congress and tell their stories. that is what people want in a representative. also, i am a mom who drives a 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.
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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 for office, pulled out a paper from one of my high school composition classes and it was about welfare to workfare. 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 serious it can get. 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 hustisford is where i went to high school. interviewer: what was growing up in a small town like?
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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? representative fitzgerald: being the son of someone in law enforcement is a unique experience, because there are
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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 owning a small company that had periodicals, weeklies, did a lot of printing, so was very engaged in government. the local level and county government does well, so another
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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
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senate is where he spent a lot of of time. what did you do? representative fitzgerald: i was elected in 1994 to a state senate seat and held the seat 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.. interviewer: what did you learn about leadership in the state senate?
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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.
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interviewer: what was it like working with members of the opposing party, and how do you cross differences to get things done? 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.
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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 naïve. a freshman in the minority in d.c., it is going to take a while to get my bearings. 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
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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
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approach the new job? representative fitzgerald: yeah, i was very fortunate to watch 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. 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 at, because we are so
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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. 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
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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 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 senate, go to >> sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern, the book "after the people vote," a guide to the electoral college. he is interviewed by tara ross. >> for the most part, congress should be counting electors as presented to them, because it
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was the states that had the process and made the decision. i am not going to say number, but it would be extremely rare and it would be wise to not have objections in a regular way, as we have been having, and the big way we had in 2020, because it is really more about states selecting the electors. they set their laws and congress' role is primarily to count. >> watch afterwards sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> american history tv on c-span three, exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. on sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern on reel america, 1934 1934 newsreels on the california -- tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> on january 3, 2021, more than 60 new members of congress were sworn in to serve 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


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