Retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had some stern words of warning for her party as she faces the end of a nearly 30-year career in the House.
Speaking to NPR’s Morning Edition, Ros-Lehtinen pointed in particular to how the Republican Party has lost women, minorities, and especially young people in recent years, noting that it stands to “lose this whole generation.”
“The young people rejected the Republican Party,” she said about the recent midterm election results. “There’s really no other way to say it. Suburban women left our party. And minorities did not see us as a welcoming voice.”
To rectify this, Ros-Lehtinen told her fellow GOP members, “You just have to show people that you care. And we’re not even willing to do that….We’re not doing anything to appeal to those groups.”
While a record number of women were elected to Congress this year, there will only be 13 Republican women in the House—10 fewer than there currently are, which Ros-Lehtinen called “unbelievable,” “astounding,” and “eye-popping.”
“Instead of going forward, we’re going backward,” she continued. “We need to pay attention to the changing demographics of our country. We have not been attuned to that. We have been appealing to one certain section of America.”
Ros-Lehtinen was both the first Latina and first Cuban-American in Congress and was the first woman to serve as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. While she consistently won re-election in her district, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump there in 2016, and this year her seat flipped blue.