June 30, 2020

Trailblazers Special: Newcomers

Meet conservative women running for a first term in Congress: Young Kim of California, Ashley Hinson of Iowa and Lisa Scheller of Pennsylvania. Margaret Hoover explores their motivations for running, policies and visions for the Republican Party.

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More Republican women are running for Congress than ever before, this week on a special edition of ‘Firing Line.’
When a record number of women arrived in Congress after the 2018 midterm elections…
I am Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib!

…they were virtually all Democrats.
Now the Grand Old Party is trying something new.
For the first time, more than 220 Republican women entered the race.

We’ve got a lot of work in front us.
Three of them, a Korean-American immigrant, a former news anchor and suburban mom, and a former opioid addict turned businessperson, you’ll meet here.

‘Firing Line with Margaret Hoover’ is made possible by… Additional funding is provided by… Corporate funding is provided by… Support for this episode was provided by…
Now I’ll introduce you to my three guests who hope to be elected to Congress in November.

Hi. My name is Young Kim.

I’m Ashley Hinson.

I’m Lisa Scheller.

These women are trying to do something that hasn’t happened very often.
11,040 Americans have served in the House of Representatives since the founding.
318 have been women.
100 have been Republican women.
13 Republican women serve in the House of Representatives today.

And when I’m elected in November, I will be the first Korean-American Republican woman to serve in the United States Congress.

Young Kim is trying to win the congressional district that was Richard Nixon’s home base, once solidly conservative, mostly white, Orange County, California.
But like so much of America, her district has changed.
And now she believes the Republican Party must change, too.

Just in this mall alone, we have a Korean restaurant, we have Vietnamese restaurant, we have Taiwanese-American bakery here.
It tells a lot about the diversity we have in the 39th district.
I believe the Republican Party has fallen short in encouraging and empowering women to run for office in the first place.
That has been the case over the last few decades.
Congress is where we make the laws.
It’s the policy-making body, and women tend to support policies that prioritize families, healthcare, education.
And for someone like me who comes from a different ethnic background, I think we bring different perspectives.

Kim ran for Congress for the first time two years ago.

November 2018, on election night, I actually won.
I was ahead.

A historic day at the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.

I mean, when you’re ahead by like two-digit margins, you almost feel like, ‘Okay, we got it.’

After the election, she went to Washington, D.C., for freshman orientation.
But then, when the mail-in votes were finally counted…
A Korean-American candidate running for a seat in the U.S.
House of Representatives has lost.

…her opponent became the first Democrat to win the district since the Great Depression.

I told everybody, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I don’t think that Young Kim is done.’

And she wasn’t done.
Young Kim decided to run again.
The rematch is set for this November.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I know what I’m up against.
But that doesn’t scare me.
I am not a quitter.
You know?
Winners don’t quit.
Ashley Hinson was the second violinist in the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra in 2001 when she decided to change careers.
Joining us live this morning from Washington, D.C., Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
I got my degree in broadcast journalism and worked for more than 10 years as a news anchor telling people’s stories, which is what I love to do.

She changed careers again four years ago, running for and winning a seat in the Iowa state legislature.

Hi, there, everybody.
I’m State Representative Ashley Hinson.
It was actually pretty simple.
It was a — It’s just a matter of saying, ‘You know what?
I’m tired of talking about it, and I want to do something about it.’
I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to be able to go and work on policy issues and truly advocate and tell the stories of my constituents where they’re really important as we’re having those big discussions about public policy.
I think my problem is, I’ve got a mask.

This year, Hinson is running for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District, challenging a first-term Democrat, Abby Finkenauer.

The future of our state and our country is on the line.

When I hear that there are, you know, so few conservative women, I think absolutely that’s inspiring.
And, to me, it’s a reason that I should step up and run.
I’m a mom. I’m a working mom.
I have a very supportive husband.
I’m lucky in the fact that I have somebody behind me who has made it so that I can be able to step up and do this.
I was on the other side of the street in… [ Children shouting, laughing ]
Give me all the Cheez-its!

[ Laughs ]
Should probably do that again.

We’re not going into the plan… More women are willing to run for office.
I believe we are seeing a sea change in that, and I think that’s a very positive thing.

Lisa Scheller is running to represent Pennsylvania’s 7th District, near where she grew up in coal country.

I had some struggles in my life, and I took — I went down a road of addiction, and it took me to a very, very dark place.
By the grace of God, though, at age 22, I hit rock bottom.
And rock bottom is a very solid foundation for growth.

Scheller has been sober now for 38 years, and she says she understands from personal experience the impact of the opioid crisis on her community.

Hey, Lauren, how are you?
I founded a coffee shop in Tamaqua…
Hey, any chance I could get a Lisa Latte?
…where the addiction rate is more than twice the national rate.
And this coffee shop employs addicts in early recovery with the mission to end the stigma of being in recovery.

Your mom is a huge success story.
You know, I just can’t believe the growth that she has had in the last few years.
The goal is not for people to be baristas here forever.
The goal is that to —
It’s a stepping stone.

It’s a pathway into the community.

Today, Lisa Scheller also runs a family business that makes specialty paints using aluminum pigment.

I’m a businessperson and an engineer.
I’m not a politician.
So what I plan to do in this campaign is really draw a clear picture of what the values that I represent, the values of personal liberty, equality of opportunity.

Liberal Lisa Scheller, just another pro-China, anti-Trump, fake conservative.

Scheller ran in the Republican primary against a man who accused her of not being a true conservative.
It was close, but in early June, she won.

Congratulations to all of you.
This has truly been a team effort.

Lisa Scheller, Ashley Hinson, and Young Kim are each in tight races with four months left to convince voters to send them to Washington.
Ashley Hinson, Young Kim, Lisa Scheller, welcome to ‘Firing Line.’

Thank you for having us.

Thank you so much for having us.

2018 was actually called the Year of the Woman because of the record numbers of women that were elected to the House of Representatives.
Who would’ve known that just two years later, a record number of Republican women would file for federal office and file to run for the House of Representatives?
The three of you have cleared those first hurdles and will be on the ballots in November.
I’d like each of you to tell me why it was important for you to run in 2020.
Ashley, why don’t you go first?

Sure. Well, I looked at the chaos and dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and thought it was absolutely the right time as a Republican woman to step up and be that important voice for conservative women across the country and, most importantly, in the 1st district here in Iowa.
So, for me, it was really a no-brainer.
I think there is a good reason for Republican women to step up and run.
We bring a unique perspective to the table, a voice that is missing in Washington, D.C., in some cases.
I think there are more men named Jim in the House than there are women in the Republican caucus in the House.
And so when you think about that, it’s absolutely important to have a strong conservative voice stepping up to run.

We have different, unique perspective, as Ashley mentioned, as Lisa, you mentioned.
We bring a unique perspective.
My background as an immigrant woman, mother, small businesswoman, woman needs to have a seat at the table when we discuss policies that affect all of us.
We’re not just housewives.
You know what?
Housewife, being a mom, it’s probably the best title that we — we can all talk about because it gives us the ability to handle multiple things.
We are multitaskers.
We wanted to get things done, and we want to work in a bipartisan manner.
And for us, we know how to get things done by reaching across the aisle.

I think the importance to having greater gender balance in our political diversity is exactly what Young was saying.
We really need to have these — this diversity of experience, this diversity of perspective.
The broader — It’s more representative of what our country is.
A little bit of the perspective that I bring from the struggles that I’ve had, one, being open about my recovery from addiction.
And I’ve been 38 years continuously clean and sober from addiction.
I understand the struggle that people go through when they’re going through this and the connection to mental health.
And this is a perspective that I would be bringing to Congress if I have the honor to be elected.

So, as you are all trying to change the dynamic and the balance between Republican women and Democratic women — as we know, there are 101 Democratic women in the House of Representatives right now and only 13 Republican women.
You’re all trying to do something about that.
But even if we just step away from the partisan identification, if you add up all of the women in the House of Representatives, it is still only 25%, when women are 50% of the electorate.
Go ahead, Young.
Why is that?

Let’s be frank.
In the past, Republican Party has not done as good of a job of encouraging and recruiting woman to run for partisan offices.
And when they do, are — You know, we wait until they make it out of the primary and then throw their support in.
You know, in 20198, When I ran for that open seat, there were 17 candidates.
I worked my butt off.
I became the tough go-getter out of the 17 candidates, and I was left with running against a California lottery winner who spent about $10 million.
You know, even though I got help, the party came in after summer.
And what I’m saying is, we need to step up, and the party has to come in earlier to help us out.
But in 2020, we’re gonna — It’s gonna be different.

So, Young, what I think you’re too polite to say is that the party recognized in 2018 — and not just the party, the party, the party apparatus, the party infrastructure, the party elders — recognized that they could do better after 2018.

Oh, yes.

And that there has been a recognition.
Do you see a difference in how the party has responded to women candidates this race versus your previous race?

Oh, my God, a stark difference.
I was, like, being asked to run instead of me going and begging people, ‘Can I run?
Can you help me?’

Well, let me pose it to Lisa and Ashley a slightly different way.
And it’s the following.
Republicans tend to focus on individual achievement and individuals over group identity.
So how do you guys square this idea that we believe in individual achievement and we believe in the primacy of the individual over identity politics?
Ashley, do you want to take a stab at that one first?

Sure. Well, first and foremost, I didn’t run because I’m a woman.
I’m running because I have ideas and I want to work with people to find solutions.
And I think that identity politics, yes, they have their place.
We as women need to cheer each other on.
We absolutely need to have each other’s backs.
But we have to focus on the issues.
We can do better on all of these issues.
And bringing our unique perspective to the table will just help to find better solutions for all people across the country.

Hey, Lisa, I’d love to get a sense from you.
You’re just through a primary.
I don’t want to look back too much because it’s over.
[ Laughter ] But what was really interesting to me, Lisa, about your primary is that your male opponent characterized you as not being conservative enough.

You were following it, weren’t you.
Dean Browning said, ‘Liberal Lying Lisa Scheller is a Nancy Pelosi clone.’
Do you think that gender plays differently for Republican women in primaries than it does in a general election?

If I were to be perfectly frank about those attacks that were made on me as an opponent, yes.
I will get — I will get attacked in a different way from my — from Susan Wild going forward.
But that way, I think, I hope is over.
And we can unify the Republican Party around me as the nominee representing Pennsylvania 7 in the general election.

Ashley, I think I saw you nod when I asked the question about how gender plays for Republican women in a primary election versus a general election and that there is a difference.
Did you want to add anything to that?

Yeah, I would just add, I think, you know, when we were making calls and our team was making calls, there are still people who just would prefer to vote for a man.
I think in the general election, what we’re going to see is, I’m also running against a liberal, first-term Democrat woman.
And so gender, I don’t think really matters in this race.
It’s about who’s the qualified candidate, going forward, and I happen to be the most qualified woman candidate to take this job in Congress.

It’s hard to avoid current events.
The fact that one of you is in Iowa, one of you is in California, and one of you is in Pennsylvania, and I’m coming to you from South Carolina, because of social distancing, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
You know, the things — some of the things that you all have said you represent, the Republicans represent — fiscal discipline, lower taxes, limited government — have really been turned upside down.
The federal government has spent a tremendous amount of money, close to $4 trillion, in the last few months.
So, Ashley, I wonder if — if you could take that one.
Could you address how, as a conservative Republican that believes in limited government and fiscal conservatism, how do you square that with how Washington has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

When you talk about this bigger impact of what’s happening with COVID, I think we’ve seen people take advantage of a crisis to further their agenda, which is exactly what’s wrong with Washington, D.C., and politics, in general.
When you see people taking advantage of an aid package to add an extreme amount of spending to priorities that aren’t really about relief and providing that assistance to businesses that have been hurt by this challenging time, I think that’s exactly what’s wrong with Washington politics right now.
I mean, we need to be really re-centering ourselves and focusing on helping the people who we are elected to serve and help.

So are you saying you think fiscal responsibility should be more of the conversation as we think about fiscal stimulus and aid going forward?

Yeah, I think we need to be very careful about these spending packages.
They are huge.
I think, you know, people have lost track of what a trillion dollars really means for our country.
It’s not ‘Monopoly’ money.
It’s real taxpayer money.
And that debt is going to be piled on my children’s back and my children’s children’s back.
And I think that perspective has gone missing in these conversations.
Absolutely we want to make sure that these packages are helping those who they are intended to help.
But we need to be very cognizant of that long term, long game when we’re making these decisions.

And, Ashley, I hear you.
I mean, we need to be fiscally responsible in the way that we spend money because this is taxpayers’ money.
And what we decide to do right now, it’s going to have a lasting impact.
What the federal government did, in terms of bringing relief to help families and businesses at times like this to get us through the crisis, I think it’s warranted.
But when Nancy Pelosi pushes through a very partisan bill without any support from the other side, pushing it, even with the bipartisan opposition, this is exactly what’s wrong with House of Representative and what’s going on in Washington, D.C.

Lisa, would you like to share with us?
As you campaign through the fall and the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, what is gonna be the most important message for you and for the people of Pennsylvania 7?

I’m a small business owner, and I know the struggle that other small business owners had.
You know, we have to maintain safety and make sure that we are safe and healthy, but we need to systematically open up our country, open up our states, put people back to work, get our economy going.
We’re talking about trillions of dollars in debt, as you mentioned.
The best way to counter that is a robust economy, a growing economy where people are making money, businesses are making money, and taxes are being paid on that money.
And we need to still keep our taxes low because that’s what’s going to spur our economy and make sure that that growth happens.
At the end of the day, we’re Americans.
This is the greatest country in the world, and we are resilient, and we are gonna come back from this, and we’re gonna come back stronger than ever.

Our country is still working through the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, the African-American man who died at the hands of a white police officer on May 25th.
What I’d love to do is get your reaction to that tragic event.
Ashley, I’d love to start with you.

Seeing the video of what happened to George Floyd made me literally sick to my stomach.
My husband and I were watching it, and I think everybody was appalled about what happened there.
Justice has to happen for his family.
He deserves that.
And what that police officer did was absolutely wrong.
I think seeing people destroy property does a disservice to the memory of George Floyd and his family.
I think what we need to be focused on is instead of destruction, constructive process.

Ashley just said George Floyd needs justice.
And that’s something that people are saying across the country.
Protesters, demonstrators, average citizens are saying, ‘This man needs justice.’
What do you believe justice looks like?
Young, to you first.

Sure. Let me first say that my reaction to the video, which eventually led to George Floyd’s killing, really shook me to my core.
But I would like to ask people to use your — I mean, exercise your right to express how you feel, but let’s do it in a peaceful way to bring about dialogue.
And I will support anyone who wants to have a conversation come to the table.
But we need to do it in a peaceful manner.

Lisa, what do you believe justice will look like for George Floyd and for his family?

So, when I watched — also watched the video of George Floyd being murdered, which is what it was, I was also physically very shaken.
This shouldn’t happen in America.
The officers responsible need to be held accountable.
And I think that’s gonna happen.
I believe that has to happen.
I applaud those who are protesting peacefully.
But the rioting — And I do, I understand the anger that people feel.
Maybe can’t relate to it directly because I’ve never been in that position.
But people are angry because of racism and discrimination.
But it’s still criminal activity.
And as it was just said, it does — it does not honor the memory of George Floyd.
We come from all parts of the world, and we’re all created equal.
And we need to get to that point where that is how we behave as Americans.

One of the things that has come to pass in the last few years is the #MeToo movement, and politics has not been immune from that.
Currently, there is a candidate who is running for president, Joe Biden, who has an accuser Tara Reade.
Likewise, Donald Trump has also been accused by more than 20 women of sexual harassment and assault.
Do you believe Tara Reade’s story, Ashley?

I think my — when I look at what’s happened with the situation is, I think every woman should be listened to and heard.
Every case deserves to be investigated.
I think there is an incredible double standard that we’ve also seen in how the media has treated Joe Biden.
And I think that’s what’s most frustrating to me.
As a former member of the media, when I was asking questions, I would’ve asked that question of a Republican or a Democrat.
And I pride myself on the fact that when I was on the air, nobody knew what my political party was.
I think people were shocked when I said I was running as a Republican after coming out of the media.
So I think it’s very frustrating to me to see the double standard.
But we do need to investigate things, and I think we’ve also seen people’s reputations in the past completely ruined with false allegations.
I think about what happened to Brett Kavanaugh.
Timing is everything.
And what happened as that all played out in the national media, and reputation can be ruined also with a false accusation.
So there are a lot of things to consider when you’re talking about the #MeToo movement and all of these circumstances surrounding accusations.

It takes a lot of courage to have any woman come forward and accuse somebody else that, you know, she’s been sexually harassed or things like that.
So, first of all, we want to give the benefit of doubt to anyone coming out of that shell and just being bold enough and strong enough to tell her side of the story.
I really don’t know whether or not Tara Reade is telling the truth.
We will let the system — justice system work itself out.

Lisa, go ahead.

It is — It must be terribly difficult for a woman who has been harassed or assaulted to come forward and talk about it.
She should be listened to, and the investigation needs to be done.
But we need to be a country of due process, and we need to make sure that those people who have been hurt are treated fairly and they get the remedies that they need and that those people who have been falsely accused are also exonerated and get the remedies that they need.

As Republicans, how do you think about the 20 accusers that have accused President Trump of sexual harassment or assault?

Gosh, I — You know what?
As I said earlier, every woman who comes forward, wants to tell their story, should be heard.
And we need to follow that due process.
But I believe that this — the media, the left-leaning media that we see, it’s not the first time — They will find anything — anything — to go after our president.

Let me show you guys a picture.
This is a picture of President Trump’s cabinet.

[ Chuckles ] First of all, that image needs to change.
We need Young Kim sitting at that table.
We need Ashley sitting at the table.
We need Lisa sitting at the table.
We need Margaret sitting at the table.
His cabinet needs to include more women and invite more of us.

You have said the GOP, to you, stands for the Grand Opportunity Party.

I say GOP stand for Grand Opportunity Party, and it’s about time that we change that picture, and image that we just saw.

Lisa, how about that picture for you?

Yeah, the picture definitely needs to be changed, and our voices do need to come to the table.
We do bring a unique perspective, and we do bring a can-do attitude.

We are definitely working on changing the conversation and changing the way that picture looks.

Ashley Hinson, Young Kim, Lisa Scheller, thank you for taking a moment out to visit with me and our PBS audience nationally about women on the Republican side who are running for Congress this year.

Thank you, Margaret.

Thank you so much for having us.

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