Editor's Note: Newsmax Senior Editor David A. Patten is in Washington this week interviewing the incoming tea party freshmen and Republican leaders to offer an exclusive look at the next Congress and its Republican agenda. This is the first in a series of Newsmax special reports and videos.
Having won elections on the national level for the first time on Nov. 2, emerging GOP rock stars Tim Scott of South Carolina and Kristi Noem of South Dakota find themselves running for office again — and this time, it’s against each other.
Noem and Scott are the two incoming GOP members of Congress seeking election to the special leadership position that presumptive House Speaker John Boehner created last week. The winner will have the responsibility of representing the interests of this year’s class of incoming freshmen representatives to the GOP establishment.
In part, the creation of the new job reflects the remarkable nature of the group elected to office in 2010. They are the largest class since 1948. They have more women and minorities than anytime since Reconstruction. And this class won election for the most part by rallying around the grass-roots conservative themes that drove voters to the polls in key races around the country.
Noem is a rancher and small-business person, while Scott is the first African-American elected to represent South Carolina in Congress since the 1890s. Both of them ran on the tea party-friendly theme that government spending is out of control and must be returned to fiscally responsible levels.
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In addition to their conservative values, one thing Scott and Noem have in common is that they both speak glowingly of each other.
“Tim Scott is a very good man, so regardless of what the freshman class decides, they’ll have some good people to choose from,” Noem says. “I want them to choose the one who is going to be more effective for them.”
Some media outlets are calling Noem the “next Sarah Palin,” perhaps because she is photogenic. She defeated blue dog Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in the general election.
The candidate who wins the new leadership post will play a key, high-profile role in shepherding conservative principles through the new Congress.
In an exclusive interview on Day One of the congressional orientation for new members, Noem told Newsmax that the job is all about getting results.
Other members, she says, “need to know that they’re going to have somebody who’s willing to communicate, spend a lot of time visiting with them, finding out and carrying that message to the leadership table.
“You’re going to have somebody who’s willing to dedicate some of their staff time to that, and making sure that that happens, and that they’re somebody who says something and means it and follows through on it,” she says.
Like Noem, Scott has made a reputation for himself as a staunch opponent of the president’s healthcare reforms.
He made national news in the GOP primary when he defeated Paul Thurmond, son of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond. Scott then trounced Democrat Ben Frasier in the general election, winning 65 percent of the vote.
Asked whether repealing Obamacare or creating jobs is the GOP’s No. 1 priority, he tells Newsmax that doing the former will contribute to the latter.
“I think Obamacare lends itself to much of our agenda,” he says. “The fact is the first thing we have to do is cut spending, the second thing we have to do is cut spending, the third thing we have to do is cut spending.”
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Scott says the new leadership position will require balancing the needs of each congressional district. “Eighty-three members of the freshman class have a powerful voice in the Republican conference,” he tells Newsmax.
“Therefore the place where we need to have strong leadership is at that table, so we are helping to craft the agenda of this country.”
So does Scott have confidence that the incoming Speaker Boehner will represent the interests of the grass roots?
“I’m confident that Speaker Boehner will be Speaker Boehner. And the rest we’ll figure out as we go along the way,” Scott said, adding: “I think he’s going to be a man of his word. His intentions seem to be consistent with the conservative construction that we were elected, and as long as we all expect folks to live up to their intentions, then we’ll be in good shape as a country.
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