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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell on why Michigan is so important in 2020

"The Takeout": Representative Debbie Dingell
Representative Debbie Dingell on "The Takeout" — 1/17/2020 48:43

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell hasn't chosen a candidate to support in the Democratic presidential primary yet, but she's looking for one who's sure to make her home state of Michigan a priority. Dingell, who represents a district that contains a significant number of Trump voters, said Democrats who come to Michigan had better be prepared to talk about trade. 

"We quite frankly, as Democrats, didn't do a good job four years ago talking about issues that matters to them," Dingell told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. And in 2016, that may have made a difference in the outcome. Donald Trump won Michigan with a bare fraction of a percent against Hillary Clinton. Dingell warned that this year, President Trump will again be able to tap into the anger he found among Michigan voters in 2016.

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She also recalled urging Hillary Clinton to come out more strongly against an unpopular trade agreement, and lamented that Clinton failed to do so until it was too late.

"We were just not smart in how we campaigned in Michigan the last time," she said.

Dingell also said she would not endorse a candidate until after the Michigan primaries.

"This time, we need to see what the American people want, who they're going to support, who can talk to all the voters, and I want to see how candidates do in my state when they come in there for the primary on March 10. And I'm going to support who the Michigan voters support," Dingell said.

Dingell, the wife of the late John Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, also spoke about her legacy in Congress and as one of General Motors' first female employees.

"I'm very proud of my last name, and some of the most important things that have happened for working men and women in this country" were introduced by Dingell and his father, Debbie Dingell said.

"I love John Dingell. I loved him every single minute of my life. But I'm also a woman who didn't know John Dingell when I started my career, when I got my job at General Motors," Dingell said. "I am my own person. And I think it's about time — it is 2020 — that women should be judged on their career, their experiences, what we deliver, and not because of who you were married to."

"I take that legacy seriously, I'm proud of it, but I'm my own person. I'm Debbie Dingell, who has a job interview every two years with the people of the 12th district," Dingell continued.

For more of Major's conversation with Dingell, download "The Takeout" podcast on  iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
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