Mia Love won her race for Congress yesterday, defeating Democrat Doug Owens in a tight race in Utah. To tee up an interview with the victorious candidate, CNN played the following sound bite from Love last night: “Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress. Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it.”
Given that Love appeared to be embracing the historic significance of her feat, CNN hosts John Berman and Michaela Pereira clearly felt some license to walk this ground in an interview this morning. Berman, who is white, noted that Love was the first black Republican woman to be elected to the House and asked how Republicans could pull off more diversity-boosting wins. Love responded this way: “First of all, I think what we need to mention here is this had nothing to do with race. Understand that Utahns have made a statement that they’re not interested in dividing Americans based on race or gender, that they want to make sure that they’re electing people who are honest and who have integrity, who can … make sure that we represent the values that they hold dear and that’s what really made history here. It’s that race, gender had nothing to do with it. Principles had everything to do with it, and Utah values had everything to do with it. And so that’s the history that we made here.”
Having none of that response, Pereira, who is biracial, challenged Love, wondering whether her election stood for the principle that everyone deserves a seat at the table. Love responded that her town of Saratoga Springs, Utah, has few African Americans and that “I wasn’t elected because of the color of my skin. I wasn’t elected because of my gender. I was elected because of the solutions I put on the table.”
Note to Love for future interviews: Neither anchor ever suggested anything to the contrary. They merely attempted to launch a conversation about whether a certain political race/gender barrier in American politics is taking a tumble. And if anything, the gist of that conversation is a credit to Love’s ideas and solutions. But Love was having none of it. This is why the Erik Wemple Blog loves cable news.