A newly elected Republican reflects on the GOP’s performance

House Republicans are stepping into power in part because of wins from candidates of color as well as in some hard-fought swing districts. Those who won now have a seat at the table over the future of their party. Michigan Rep.-elect John James will be the first Black Republican elected to Congress in the state. He joins Lisa Desjardins to discuss the performance of his party in the midterms.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, meantime, we know Republicans are less than a month away from taking over control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a slim majority.

    Our Lisa Desjardins has that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    House Republicans are stepping into power, in part because of wins from candidates of color, as well as in some hard-fought swing districts.

    Those who've won now have a seat at the table over the future of their party.

    One of them is our guest, congressman-elect John James from Michigan. He will be the first Black Republican elected to Congress from the state.

    Congressman-elect, first of all, congratulations.

    John James (R), Michigan Congressman-Elect: Thank you so much.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I want to ask you, what do you want to do? And, specifically, what kind of bills do you think Republicans should pass in the House next year?

  • John James:

    Frankly, recognizing that the only colors that matter are red, white, and blue for folks in my district and all over the country, addressing bills that lower prices and make our communities safer, and bring back our jobs are things that folks in my district and folks all around the country are desperate for, making it a more permissive area to innovate and create jobs.

    And I'm just so excited to bring my supply chain and my business background, my military background to help secure our country and also make our economy stronger as well.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That sounds like deregulation? Am I right? Taxes? What are we talking about here?

  • John James:

    No, great point.

    So, we absolutely need tax reform, regulatory reform and tort reform. But we have to do it in a commonsense manner. We need to make sure — and, again, I'm not anti-government, but I am pro-limited government. And there are just certain things that I believe that individuals, families and local communities do better than the federal government.

    I actually believe in empowering the people, getting money back to where it's made, putting money back in the hands of people who've earned it, and, frankly, making it easier for people to grow businesses and to keep businesses right in my district, state, and bring folks back — our jobs back from around the country.

    So, yes, commonsense regulatory reform that, of course, makes sure that our environment is safe and that our environment is sustainable, but also our economy can grow as well. I think there's a way to walk and chew gum at the same time, and I plan on doing both right here in Washington.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    While you have those aspirations, you also have a divided House Republican Conference. Some members in your conference are still talking about the 2020 election, still talking about lies, that it was somehow fraudulent.

    And some say they won't support Mr. McCarthy as a potential House speaker. You're also on an RNC audit committee to talk about the 2022 election. So, my question to you is, how do you make sure that this infighting within your party doesn't get in the way of what you want to do?

  • John James:

    Look, I have very little tolerance for the political B.S. and infighting and partisan stuff.

    The people, the 800,000 folks who sent me here sent me here to do a job. And in order to be worthy of the post that we have, in order to be worthy of their trust and support, we need to work through our differences, recognize that we need to start and build where we're all of the same voice, where we all agree, because I actually believe that 90 to 95 percent of the issues that we face, that everyday Americans face are not partisan issues.

    I'm looking forward to bringing my skill set to bear, representing my constituency, my country, to the best of my ability, and really cutting through, working from both sides of the aisle, and even in our own conference, to make — help make life better for Americans.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I heard you when you said that red, white and blue are the only colors that matter, but it is notable, is it not, that Republicans had their most diverse slate of candidates ever for nominees this year for Congress?

    Now, on the other hand, not all of them won, as you did, including, I think, no Black women Republican nominees were able to win their election.

    I know you have been stumping for Herschel Walker in Georgia. My question to you is, is the Republican Party doing enough to make sure that it's speaking to everyone and recruiting candidates of color?

  • John James:

    What a great question.

    I have said time and time again we cannot expect a return when we have not made an investment. Republicans need to continue to address issues in colleges and cities all over the country. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do.

    But we're not prioritizing identity. We're prioritizing ability. And I believe that by getting the right messages into every corner of the nation, we're going to begin to win on ideas. And then we're going to be able to walk the talk right here in Washington and most importantly back in our districts, because there are a lot of people, regardless of the color their skin, who need help, and need it now.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Now, you are someone who yourself has raised questions about the 2020 election and irregularities, I believe, is the word you use, in Michigan.

    But all of the really serious concerns in Michigan were thrown out. I want to ask you a straightforward question here. Do you believe that President Biden is duly elected?

  • John James:

    Yes, Lisa, I'm going to check you on that.

    Within three weeks, after going through the legal process in the state of Michigan, after three weeks, once the canvassers, according to the legal process in our state, I congratulated my opponent within three weeks. That is how the law is run in Michigan. And I'm a rule of law kind of guy.

    So you have to be fair. Moving forward, Joe Biden is our president.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I need to check your language here. Joe Biden is our president, but was he duly elected?

  • John James:

    Of course. Yes. That's how the process works.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I want to ask you about President — former President Trump's statement over the weekend.

    When he talked about the 2020 election, he said in — on his TRUTH Social account that, essentially, there was enough fraud there that, in his words, that it allowed for the termination of rules, regulations and articles, including the Constitution.

    What do you think of those words from the former president?

  • John James:

    Yes, I was very disappointed by that statement.

    I swore an oath to the United States Constitution. And I did not quit that oath when I took my uniform off as a combat veteran of the United States of America. Anyone who would destroy the Constitution cannot be trusted to defend it.

    I have said many, many times before that I can agree with the president without worshipping him, and I can disagree without attacking him. My focus is not on what's going on outside of anywhere outside of my district. My focus is on being here to serve people in my district. And there are plenty of people talking about Trump.

    Frankly, I think there are a lot of folks who are obsessed with Trump. I'm obsessed with people in my district and doing what it takes to bring jobs back, lower prices, and make our community safer.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Does a statement like that disqualify him from being president, a job which is to uphold the Constitution?

  • John James:

    Well, that's a decision for the voters to make in 2024. It's not even 2022 (sic) yet.

    I'm a member-elect. I haven't been sworn in. I'm looking forward to getting back to my district and making a to-do list for everything that I need to get to work on to make their lives better. And you guys can talk about the palace intrigue and who's running in 2024. I have a lot of work to do to make life better for people in my district.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    John James, the congressman-elect of the 10th District of Michigan, thank you for your time.

  • John James:

    Thanks a lot, Lisa. Appreciate it.

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