This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Two years ago, when Mia Love first ran for Congress against the entrenched Democrat Jim Matheson, she was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
It wasn't because of her unique or great ideas. The GOP wanted to showcase her. A daughter of Haitian immigrants, she was touted as a symbol of the party's increasing diversity.
Had Love won in 2012, she would have been the first black Republican woman ever elected to Congress. That was a selling point to national GOP donors and political-action committees. They poured millions into her campaign. Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators lambasted some networks for not airing her convention speech, implying those liberal mainstream media types didn't want the nation to see the GOP celebrating a black Republican woman.
For 2014, Love hired a savvy veteran Republican operative, Dave Hansen, as her campaign manager. He did a superb job. She seemed much smoother and better prepared this time.
Now Love has made history. She will be the first black Republican woman to serve in Congress. To top it off, she is from Utah, a state that, fairly or not, has had a reputation for not having the best upward-mobility opportunities for blacks or women.
The day after her election, though, Utah's congresswoman-elect didn't handle her place in history all that well.
CNN's John Berman and Michaela Pereira interviewed Love. The network introduced the segment with an excerpt from her victory speech the night before: "Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress. Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it."
So she embraced the historic significance of her triumph.
But when the CNN hosts brought it up, she acted offended.
"First of all, I think what we need to mention here is this had nothing to do with race. Understand that Utahns have made a statement that they're not interested in dividing Americans based on race or gender, that they want to make sure that they're electing people who are honest and who have integrity. ... Principles had everything to do with it, and Utah values had everything to do with it. And so that's the history that we made here."
Well, race and gender had a lot to do with it when she was raising money. Race and gender had a lot to do with it when she was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention. And race and gender had a lot to do with it during her victory speech.
Love's attitude on CNN offended the sensibilities of Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple. He wrote in his blog about the interview: "Neither anchor ever suggested anything to the contrary. They merely attempted to launch a conversation about whether a certain political race/gender barrier in American politics is taking a tumble. And if anything, the gist of that conversation is a credit to Love's ideas and solutions."
Where's Dave Hansen when you really need him?