Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik says "non-traditional" candidates "most effective" in Congress

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, says that the future of Congress will be found in more "non-traditional" candidates -- women, in particular. Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, is on a mission to help make that future a reality as the National Republican Congressional Committee's vice chair of recruitment, the fist woman to hold that title. She told "CBS This Morning" on Monday that both parties, Republican and Democrat, need to focus their recruitment on women, Hispanics and African-Americans. 

"In my experience, I was not recruited to run for Congress so I understand that we needed to think more broadly. And I often think that non-traditional candidates in this political climate are the most effective members of Congress and the most effective candidates, particularly in swing districts," Stefanik said. 

One reason why? Women on both sides of the aisle tend to be more bipartisan. "If you look at our voting records and the bills that we introduce, women tend to be more bipartisan than our male colleagues," Stefanik said.

Stefanik said she herself ranks in the top 10 percent for bipartisanship among current members of Congress. "If you look at swing districts across the country, we need to appeal beyond party lines and I think that makes Congress function more effectively as an institution," she said. 

While divisive rhetoric still dominates much of the political discourse in Washington and across the country, Stefanik said younger people "tend to want to reach across the political divide."

She added, "It's great to see women raising their hands and running for office -- this is a tough political climate, I experienced that, I think all elected officials experienced that, and I give anybody credit who's willing to step into the arena. We need more young voices and we need more women's voices."

Asked if it's difficult for her as a Republican to part ways with President Trump's positions on certain issues, Stefanik said, "I work with this administration on a number of issues where I agree, but where I disagree -- especially sometimes with the tweets and the rhetoric -- I will say so."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital