As one of the faces of Democrats’ successful bid to flip the U.S. House in their favor in last week’s midterm elections, Lauren Underwood talked Trump, her party’s leadership and her upset victory in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning.
“The president is certainly a factor,” said Underwood, when asked if she would call her success a referendum on President Donald Trump. “But in the Illinois 14th District, we had not been well represented. We had a congressman who was not caring for our voice, voted to take away health care, voted to raise our taxes, refused to act in the face of escalating gun violence in our country.
“And so in our district it was very clearly about representation and did we have what we deserved,” she said.
Underwood, a 32-year-old nurse from Naperville who has never held elected office, knocked off Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano in the far west and north suburban district. She pulled in about 52 percent of the vote in her win, joining an incoming class of House freshmen notable for its diversity.
When asked by host Chuck Todd how her constituents viewed an ongoing investigation of the president and some close to him by special counsel Robert Mueller, Underwood said “oversight is critically important.”
“And in the 115th Congress, the congressional Republicans essentially refused to do so,” Underwood said. “And so I think that there’s certainly an interest to make sure that our critical pillars of democracy like free and fair elections can occur.”
Underwood appeared Sunday alongside fellow House newcomer Elissa Slotkin, who won her district in southwest Michigan. Repeating a major focus of her campaign, Underwood said the one thing she’ll need to concentrate on to stay in her seat long term is protecting health care for people with pre-existing conditions.
“We can protect the Affordable Care Act and we can fix it,” she said. “We can stabilize premium prices. We can lower drugs prices.”
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California is expected by many to regain her position as House speaker after Democrats return to the majority, but Underwood was noncommittal in supporting Pelosi’s leadership.
“I believe that we have a real opportunity to support a speaker that’s going to move forward an agenda,” Underwood said. “I’m interested in supporting someone who is aligned on that type of an agenda, and I look forward to having conversations with whichever candidates end up running.”
Despite her rookie status, Underwood showed early skill in skirting a question from Todd about who she sees as the national leader of the Democratic Party.
“What’s been really wonderful in this election is that each congressional candidate was able to set the tone and the agenda for their race,” she said. “And so I don’t know that we have a national leader — and I think that that’s just fine.”
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November 11, 2018 at 11:36AM