In Divided Michigan District, Debbie Dingell Straddles the Biden-Sanders Race

The concentration of manufacturing here — steel, engines, automobile parts — has made her more sympathetic than most Democrats to Mr. Trump’s trade policies. She pushed for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which she blames for the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in her district. But Ms. Dingell also holds positions that Republicans and moderates oppose, like supporting “Medicare for all” legislation that would eliminate the private insurance system.

She has scolded Democrats for failing to see that Mr. Trump could win Michigan in 2016 and says she remains convinced he could do it again. She is one of the rare Democrats who sit for regular interviews with Fox News. Her independence is something that is increasingly rare in both political parties today, where conceding that the other side has a point can have a high cost and little reward.

“I get up at meetings, and I’m Debbie Downer,” she said.

When she was first elected in 2014 after her late husband, former Representative John D. Dingell Jr., retired, Ms. Dingell was no political novice. She was chair of former Vice President Al Gore’s Michigan campaign in 2000 and represented the state on the Democratic National Committee. Before running for Congress, she worked for more than 30 years at General Motors, holding high-level jobs with the company’s public affairs division and its foundation.

Since Mr. Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win her state since 1988, it sometimes seems as if Ms. Dingell pleases no one. Anti-Trump demonstrators showed up at her events and heckled her when she said she opposed moving forward with impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump last year.

Then when she voted to impeach him in December based on evidence that he pressured Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and his son, the president attacked her and her late husband. “Maybe he’s looking up,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Michigan a few days before Christmas — a suggestion that Mr. Dingell was in hell.

She’s faced other partisan affronts during her tenure. She said she had been spit on by a pro-Second Amendment supporter and came home one night to find a man waiting for her in her driveway. She said he told her she was going to hell to be with her husband.

“It’s gotten worse since Trump came after me,” she said.

The president’s attack, and the way it was received by some of her constituents, was a lesson in the conflicting emotions and priorities of being a Trump supporter. At the Rotarian dinner on Saturday night, Ms. Dingell was embraced by an old friend, a retired utility company manager named Bill Jasman, who was disturbed by what the president had said about her husband. “Generally, I do like the things he is attacking, like China,” Mr. Jasman said, but not in the case of the late Mr. Dingell.

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