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Herrera Beutler talks politics, policing on PBS

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, recently fielded questions about identity politics, police brutality and COVID-19 during a PBS segment focused on Republican women.

In her appearance on “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover,” Herrera Beutler also said that the number of Republican women in Congress is dwindling because she and her colleagues face tougher challenges from Democrats.

“I have found that we tend to be the targets from the other side, because we’re the harder ones to beat, right? We tend to be the ones who can make a difference because we break the narrative that Republicans don’t like women,” Herrera Beutler said in the interview, which was conducted remotely due to virus concerns.

The representative from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District was one of four conservative women lawmakers to appear on the show, broadcast on PBS Friday evening. Its host, Hoover, is a conservative political commentator and a critic of President Donald Trump.

Herrera Beutler appeared alongside Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Sen. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Hoover’s segment focused on two trends: the growing number of Republican women filing to run in 2020, and the shrinking number of Republican women who are actually serving in the House and the Senate.

Herrera Beutler is one of just 13 female GOP members of the House — down from 25 in 2005 — and one of only 11 seeking reelection this year.

“How did we get here?” Hoover asked. “Because if we look back 15 years ago, there were twice as many of you in Congress than there are now.”

“A lot of the opposition I’ve faced hasn’t actually been in my own party,” Herrera Beutler responded. “It’s been political players on the other side who seek to take our seats out.”

Last week, a National Public Radio poll of 1,515 registered voters showed women skewing heavily toward Democrats. Of the surveyed women, 60 percent preferred the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, while 37 percent preferred President Trump.

As she looks toward her next reelection campaign, Herrera Beutler faces a repeat challenge from the same candidate who in 2018 gave her the closest race in her five-term career: Carolyn Long, a Washington State University Vancouver professor and moderate Democrat.

Long is one of four candidates — three Democrats and one independent — challenging the incumbent in the August primary. The other three challengers are men.

The PBS interview touched briefly on several topics. Below are snippets of Herrera Beutler’s comments. The full segment can be viewed at

n On appealing to women while avoiding the “identity politics” unpopular with conservatives:

“Honestly, the one thing that I have learned throughout this entire process is be yourself. Sometimes you have to invite yourself to the party, which I did. When I got involved in my early 20s, volunteering and going to events, I didn’t know anybody, and I just kind of pushed,” Herrera Beutler said.

On George Floyd and police brutality:

“If I had the full and complete answer to this, I would give it. But I am searching. I am searching right now with the rest of America,” Herrera Beutler said. “I was furious. And unfortunately, this isn’t a singular event. I think racial injustice is real, and America is better than this. Obviously there are people who wear a badge who shouldn’t and as policymakers and elected leaders we need to figure out how to support getting those folks out of law enforcement.”

“I am grateful that a vast majority of them are doing it for the right reasons and they’re good people,” she added.

• On the roughly $3 trillion spent on federal COVID-19 aid:

“Of course we don’t want to print money and waste it. But we also need to underpin what has been a global crisis, not of our own making,” Herrera Beutler said. “It was either, spend some now, or let it continue and develop and spend a whole lot more later.”

• On whether Trump is driving women away from the GOP:

“Do I think the way the president presents his ideas or his opinions is appropriate? Not always. Oftentimes I feel like it’s the ‘cringemeter’ — am I going to cringe when that happens or not? But I also cringe when I think about Joe Biden and his ability to handle, you know, China, whether it’s a trade imbalance or other things,” Herrera Beutler said. “So ultimately I think the candidate who’s able to really serve the public and move the economy forward is the one who’s really going to win the vote, irrespective of gender.”


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