Watch CBS News

Duckworth: "It's Time To Heal The Country, Come Together"

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After defeating Mark Kirk in the race for U.S. Senate in Illinois, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth said the most important thing is for the American people to unite and work hard for the good of the nation.

"I think that it's time to get to work. I'm here to thank the voters. I'm going to go to Springfield, and then Peoria, to make sure that the rest of the state knows that I will be serving all of this whole state," said as she greeted voters in downtown Chicago on Wednesday.

Duckworth said she was surprised that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the race for president, especially with how well Clinton performed in Illinois, but she said that won't change how she approaches her job in the Senate when she takes office in January.

"It's time to heal the country, come together, and I'm anxious to roll up my sleeves and get to work," she said.

Duckworth will take office with a Republican president and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, but she seemed unfazed by that challenge.

"I've served in the House my entire time under Republican control, with substantial control. I'm going to approach my work in the Senate in the same way. I will work with whoever is willing to work hard for this nation, and for the good of the people of both Illinois and the United States, and I'll stand up to anyone who makes decisions that are bad for the nation," she said.

The senator-elect said her agenda would have been the same no matter what had happened in the races for President or control of the House and Senate.

"I'm going to be focused on what do I need to do to serve the people of Illinois, and what agendas we need to move forward. They're going to be the same; jobs, the economy, making sure we make college affordable," she said.

She also sought to reach across the aisle after a divisive campaign season.

"If the new administration proposes policies that are good for the people, I'll work with them, but if they propose policies that are bad for the people, then I will lead the charge to stand up to any new policies that will not benefit working people across the country," she said.

Duckworth's election makes her the first Thai American in the Senate, and marks the first time Asian Americans have been elected to local, state, and federal offices in Illinois.

"It's wonderful. It's too bad that it took until 2016 for that to happen, but I'm glad that there is Asian-American representation across all levels of the government here in Illinois," she said.

After losing to Duckworth, Kirk said he invited his opponent to meet him for beers at the Billy Goat Tavern, just as he did with Alexi Giannoulias when Kirk was elected to the Senate in 2010. Duckworth said she and Kirk will get together on Veterans Day.

"It can't be any more appropriate than that, for two veterans to get together on Veterans Day and have a drink together," she said.

Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran who lost both her legs when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq. Kirk is a veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserves.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.