Unlikely Freshman

CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger met a very unlikely freshman Representative from New Hampshire. His profile airs tonight on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

It's always interesting meeting people whose lives are about to change before they actually grasp fully how different things are going to be for them.

Carol Shea-Porter, the newly minted congresswoman from New Hampshire, says she always expected to win. But, come on, she was something like 20 percentage points behind at one stage of the campaign — she must have had some doubts about her future. This is a woman who never ran for anything before, so her first term in the House of Representatives is bound to be, how shall we say, eye-opening.

I envy her, though. She may be a back-bencher, but she'll have a front row seat to at least two years of history. I've seen other freshmen in other Congresses rapidly overwhelmed by everything the Hill has to offer. I do believe she has a lot of optimism and a newcomer's way of looking at things. She says she's excited — and who wouldn't be.

It will be interesting and instructive to see how she is doing and how she's feeling about things in a couple of years. I don't mean to sound like a cynic (although reviewing the preceding words, I realize I do.) She has a clear sense of how she wants her office to function and what she wants to do. I am not cynical enough to believe that the best-laid plans never pan out.

Regardless, Carol Shea-Porter has done what most people thought was impossible — and for that, she deserves congratulations.

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"