ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today we're hearing from lawmakers of both parties leading up to tonight's State of the Union address, and we're joined now by Representative Debbie Dingell. She's a Democrat from Michigan. Welcome.
DEBBIE DINGELL: Thank you. It's good to be with you.
SHAPIRO: The White House says President Trump plans to deliver a unifying speech tonight. If he extends an olive branch to Democrats, are you prepared to accept it?
DINGELL: You know, it depends what the issue is. I've said that I will work with him on issues that will benefit the working men and women of my district. That's what I was sent to do - to do things that help them. But if he's going to propose things that are going to hurt them, or if he's going to attack some of the fundamental pillars of our Constitution, I'm going to be the loudest buzz saw he's ever met.
DINGELL: But I do think that the American people are tired of the partisan bickering. I wish he would Twitter less. And they want to see us get something done. And I think it's our responsibility to deliver for the American people.
SHAPIRO: Your district is right by Detroit. And I wonder on specific issues, whether it's manufacturing or infrastructure or NAFTA, is there something you could imagine the president saying tonight that you would say, yes, I'm onboard with that; let me join you; let me work with you?
DINGELL: So let me be clear. On all three of those subjects, I have said that I would work with him. When he came into Michigan, I said for two years that the people - I was one of the people that predicted that President Trump could win because we - too many of us - I was somebody that was very opposed to TPP, but I understood what a bad trade deal in NAFTA had done to the working men and women of my district and that they were worried about bad trade deals that kept shipping their jobs overseas. And I've said I'd be prepared to work with him on NAFTA so that we can change our trade policy so that we are locating those manufacturing jobs here.
I'll do whatever it takes to create a strong, vibrant manufacturing industry in this country, which means business and labor and government have all got to work together. And I've been very clear from the very beginning that I would work with him on infrastructure. We've got to figure out a way that we're going to pay for it, and we've got to put enough money into it.
SHAPIRO: You told us on this program the day after the election that you are not entirely surprised by President Trump's win, including his win in Michigan. You said that for months, you had been hearing from people at union picnics that workers were not excited about Hillary Clinton. Let's listen to a bit of this tape from the day after that election.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
DINGELL: What you saw in Michigan is what happened in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and the other Midwest states, which is why we have to look at what working men and women - union workers feel about who's fighting for them, who understands their issues, who understands how they feel.
SHAPIRO: And so Congresswoman Dingell, I wonder what you've heard from these same workers over the last year about President Trump's performance in office.
DINGELL: You know, I think it's complicated. I think that they're all waiting to see if he actually delivers on something on NAFTA. President Trump said, I understand; I know what it's like to work a lifetime and be worried about having a safe and secure retirement. But this White House needs to help us deliver some kind of pension security to these workers.
You know, there's a hardcore group of people that are still very strong in supporting President Trump, and there are other people who are very worried about the fear and hatred they see dividing this country. I think we've got to - all of us have a responsibility to figure out how we're going to come together and work together to deliver for everybody.
SHAPIRO: Tell us about the guest you chose to bring tonight. Cindy Garcia is the wife of Jorge Garcia, who was deported earlier this month. Why did you decide to bring her?
DINGELL: First of all, I've known Cindy. She is a UAW worker - United Auto Worker from local 600 in Dearborn, the town that I live in, an American citizen. She's been married to Jorge for 15 years. He came to this country as a young boy. He's been trying to get his citizenship. They got a bad lawyer, which is something that really worries me about too many people that are trying to get help. And I've been trying to help them for some time.
And the president says he's not targeting these kinds of people. But you know, they were paying taxes. They were doing everything right. And it just - they're human beings. For too many of us, I think that it becomes a war of words between Republicans and Democrats, and they don't realize that these are real human beings that are scared to death about what's going to happen to their life. And we've all got to work together to help support all human beings.
SHAPIRO: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, thanks for joining us today.
DINGELL: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.