Transcript: Rep. Debbie Dingell on "Face the Nation," Feb. 25, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, that aired on Feb. 25, 2024.


MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden’s refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza has been a source of considerable controversy in Michigan, which holds its primary on Tuesday. The state has a significant Arab and Muslim population. A good number are Democrats. Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joins us now from Southfield, Michigan. Welcome back to Face the Nation.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL: Good morning, Margaret. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman I know there is this protest effort underway to vote “uncommitted” among some Democrats to voice upset with the president. Will this damage him in a significant way?

DINGELL: So I wanna say to, I know many of this community, I’ve lived in Dearborn for many years with my husband, and there are two campaigns. One is an abandon Biden campaign, but the other, the major campaign that has made over a hundred thousand calls, we’ll see how many people vote on Tuesday, are trying to make sure the president hears them. They have so many family in Gaza. I cannot tell you how many people I know who have lost grandparents, some parents, aunts and uncles and cousins, families who have lost 20 or 40 members. I- the case work that I’m doing, the people- I don’t sleep at night. When you talk to them about how they don’t have food, how they don’t have any access to healthcare, they’re drinking salt water, and almost out of salt water, which isn’t healthy, the sanitary conditions on the ground. There’s- I mean, one woman, the aunt of somebody, goes to the bathroom once a day. There- a month ago, there was one toilet for every 220 people, one shower for every 15,000 people. It’s a nightmare. And they’re scared for their families and they’re worried. But I also- when we get a ceasefire, they need this ceasefire, then we sit down and, and, and talk. And there are a lot of things that Donald Trump have done who are pretty- which are pretty horrific, and when you go back and review them, we’re gonna have to remind people of what he said.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand. And the nuance of what you are saying there, that this is not political, this is personal for a lot of people. On- on that note, we just heard from the Israeli Prime Minister that he is going into southern Gaza whether President Biden likes it or not. You said you’re working to help some of your constituents without family. Do you think the United States is doing enough to get Americans or families of Americans out of harm’s way?

DINGELL: So I’m gonna first say that none of us know what’s going on in all of these negotiations. We know that Bill Burns was over in- the director of the CIA was in Paris. I know members of the National Security Council have been there and I know that the President has directly told the prime minister that he is very concerned and he needs to be very careful. People need to understand that- what is going on in Rafah right now. The population of Gaza is approximately 2.2 million people. 1.5 million of them have been forced into Rafah. We’ve already lost somewhere- you know, we can argue about the numbers, nobody denies that 12,000 children have already died. You just heard the- during that interview that the Doctors Without Borders have talked about 1,000, uh, children who have lost limbs, the number of children that don’t have families, it would be outrageous for further innocent civilians to be killed. I know that the White House is working very closely with a number of other countries to make it clear that we cannot continue this loss of life. And I- I continue to talk to the white house every day, tell them how important it is. And they assure me that the President is very engaged in delivering very direct messages.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But he has not rhetorically called for a ceasefire.

DINGELL: They- he has, in private conversations say he is working towards a temporary ceasefire. You know, I know we need a cease fire, temporary ceasefire. If you get the six week cease fire, then hopefully leads to- we also need the, we need the hostages to be returned–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. 

DINGELL: There’s people hurting on both sides. I think that that’s–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. I wanna talk to you more. I just have to take a commercial break. So let- stick with me, if you would, Congresswoman. We’ll be back with more.

(BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation. We continue our conversation now with Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Congresswoman, you’ve been very clear, the humanitarian side of this conflict, in terms of the political impact, was it a mistake for President Biden, when he went to Michigan, not to meet with any members from this particular community?

DINGELL: Look, I- I do believe that he is going to need to do that at some point down the road. This community is pretty angry right now. Uh, look, I get protested. I had a town hall meeting this week and a number of people- and I think I’ve been one of the people that has been the most em- empathetic and has been working this issue really hard. I think he sent his team out. What- when he sent many of his team out, they developed relationships or connected with people that, from both sides, I’ve heard that they’ve got ongoing conversations. And that’s gotta continue. I mean, this is really- look, Michigan’s a purple state. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

DINGELL: I wanna make that clear. It’s been a purple state, as long as I’ve been doing presidential elections. This is a very important issue here, but there are gonna be other issues too. This state’s gonna be purple from now until November. And I’ll tell you one more thing, because I am the person that fought 30 years to have a state like Michigan as one of the early primaries. I wanna be talking about this issue now in February, ’cause it will matter in November, and not on October 15th, which has happened too many times in previous presidential elections. That issues that matter in November, aren’t talked early.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the concern about reproductive healthcare access enough to cancel out these negative headwinds?

DINGELL: Look, we- Michigan had a- unprecedented turn out two years ago when the issue was on the ballot. I- I’m gonna tell- I’m gonna be blunt. You know me, I am. We gotta get young people, we gotta get women and we gotta go in the union halls. And it’s great that we’ve got the union presidents and the union organizations endorsing, but we’ve gotta go in those union halls and draw the comparison. Remind people about what Donald Trump did and didn’t do, he talked, didn’t deliver, and about what Joe Biden has delivered on. Women turning out is gonna be absolutely critical. And they thought that when they voted on this, on the ballot last year, they were safe. And now we’ve seen what the Alabama court has done in terms of IVF. Now the Republicans are scared to death and all running out and saying they support IVF. You know what? They’ve never been someone who’s tried to get pregnant. They’ve never had to live through all of this. And I think a lot of women are going to be very emotional about their- women’s health decisions should be made between them, their doctor, their faith, and their family and the federal government’s got no business in it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman and dangle. Thank you–

DINGELL: –And state government.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for being direct, as you said.

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