Ilhan Omar: We're going to help everybody across our state

Ilhan Omar is set to become one of the two first Muslim women members of Congress.

The WCCO Morning News with Dave Lee
August 16, 2018 - 3:39 pm

(Photo by Mark Vancleave/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA)

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Ilhan Omar is set to become one of the two first Muslim women members of Congress after winning the Democratic primary in the deep blue fifth district. She appeared on The Morning Show with Dave Lee Thursday and spoke about what her priorities will be in Congress, how she learned English by watching TV, and how her past as an organizer influenced her campaign.

Transcript and audio below:

Dave Lee: Congratulations on the victory. Where were you when you found out?

Ilhan Omar: I was with my team in our campaign office.

Dave Lee: I know that you have a little idea what might happen, I don't imagine you were too surprised, were you?

Ilhan Omar: We are always surprised. You work hard and like you might not win but, it's always it's always really surprising to see the numbers come in.

Dave Lee: What are your constituents telling you now? If you win the next election you go to the federal level. What are they what is going to be the number one priority for you?

Ilhan Omar: My constituents are really excited about the possibility of us going to Washington and what that means for all of us. They know that my priorities are always going to be very much aligned with the things that they told me they needed me to work on. So funding for education was was a huge part of the conversations that we had. Immigration reform criminal justice reform as you know the district is very diverse and very intelligent district. And so a lot of the people around our district really care very deeply about making sure that we're investing in transportation and transit to make sure that there is a connection between the whole the whole district and people are able to really have economic security through mobility.

Dave Lee: I was just talking with governors or candidate Tim Walz Congressman Walz and we talking about college debt. You had to pay that off yourself right?

Ilhan Omar: Still working on it. I said on the campaign trail that I was a millennial student that we also have a high school ever going to school really soon the district that I currently represent is 55 percent under the age of twenty-four. And so and I will also still represent a very young district in Washington for our constituents tackling college that and making sure college is affordable and accessible is huge.

Dave Lee: You know you come to this country out of a refugee camp. It's quite a story. And I've heard you say before that you learned English watching TV when you're about 12 years old or so. Is that true?

Ilhan Omar: Yeah my dad speaks multiple languages and believed that if you watched and you were able to mimic someone else speaking that you can have the possibility of not developing an accent. And that he thought that it actually was helpful that if you can read the language it make it easy for you to learn it. And because we were raised by educators so we knew how to read and write, he would make us watch the TV with the closed caption and we sit in front of the TV and really practice with one another. And most of my siblings also don't really have huge accents and we were able to really become super fluent really quick

Dave Lee: I can't imagine in the midst of making all those moves and learning what you did that you had any idea the amount of money that's required to run for Congress. How are you doing on your finance finances as far as campaign money?

Ilhan Omar: For us, it was really important early on in the campaign to take a pledge to not take any corporate PAC money, to make sure that we weren't taking money from the fossil fuel industry. We believed that if the people understood that we wanted to run a people-centered campaign, that we wanted to actually only represent them in Washington, their interests, that they would actually invest. And so people in our district, people across the state and across the nation really invested in making sure that we had enough money to have canvassers, to have campaign stuff, to have the refrigerator and the cabinets stocked with food, to make sure that we had campaign lit,  and were able to reach out to voters. And so for us I think, they had more money than we did, but we had the people and the energy and excitement behind our campaign.

Dave Lee: What we what we were messaging to people in our final minute what do you think the differences are the largest differences between you and your opponent?

Ilhan Omar: You know I am an organizer. I think that's really the biggest difference and I believe you get what you organize for. We organized from the beginning for you know to the conventions to having this huge victory that no one really expected that would be this big of a margin. We organized for that. I think the biggest difference between us is is we need that we believe you get what you organize for we organize for it. We got our big victory and we're going to organize for it in November. We're going to help everybody across our state organize for that big victory as well.