Mary Jordan: Is it different for women in politics than it is for men?
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: Absolutely. My husband, he’s a little bit younger than I am, went to his first spouse event, and there are all these ladies with the hair and the jewels there. They do these lunches and they get going, and here he’s a 29-year-old young man.
Mary Jordan: What does he do?
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: He keeps his head down when they really get talking. I get text messages. There are a few other male spouses, and he said, “I’m going to ask the speaker if we can get a room in the Capitol, and we’re going to make it a man cave.” And I laughed, and I [said], “Honey, no offense, but the entire Capitol is a man cave.” That’s been my experience.
Mary Jordan: Are there special challenges for women running for office?
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: I think so. I’ve heard people say you have to really coax women into running and hold their hand, and I disagree with that. As the youngest woman serving in the U.S. House and tied for the youngest woman overall, there are certain challenges. It’s not that you have to change who you are but you really have to push yourself, and I think it’s harder on your family. When you’re sitting in a debate and people are hitting below the belt or the crowd shouts you down to where you can’t speak, you just have to smile, not give them a YouTube moment, answer, be confident, and move along.
Mary Jordan: What would be a bad YouTube moment? What do you try to avoid?
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: I think just reacting in a way that’s unprofessional. It’s very hard. I think one of the things we want from our leaders is to see their humanity and to see them be vulnerable, see them be real, but on the other hand in this 24-hour news cycle, I’ve had trackers, [a] little guy with a camera follow you around everywhere. And in my first race, this killed me. I put on a little bit of weight in the middle of the campaign and the angle that they used, I swear they used a wide angle lens to cut their negative commercials. I just thought that’s so below the belt.
Mary Jordan: Do you get satisfaction out of your day, and where do you find it? Where do you find satisfaction?
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: I do. People ask me, do you like being in Congress, and I say it’s rewarding. It’s the reward of knowing you’re fulfilling part of your purpose. That’s ultimately where I think joy comes from.