Not every female member of Congress would volunteer to stand next to President Trump. But Diane Black is happy to do so.
Whether this Republican congresswoman is part of a high-stakes budget meeting in the White House or traveling on Air Force One to a campaign event, Black can often be seen alongside the president despite criticism of his coarse language and colorful past with women.
“Yes, he is a different personality, different than any president I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Black told me. “He says things like he sees them. Now, do I always agree on how he says things? No, I don’t, but that is his style and who he is, and there is so much more to him and his accomplishments than his style.”
Black was the first female chair of the powerful House Budget Committee. Often, she’s been the only woman present in critical budget meetings where health-care reform or the tax bill were discussed.
She is very much like that Trump supporter whom pollsters missed during the 2016 election. Wealthy, successful and conservative, pundits would look at Black and think in no way she connects with Trump.
But Black and Trump have similarities. He was born into a well-off family and is comfortable moving in a world of blue-collar hard hats. Black comes from a world of hard hats and now is well off.
Originally, however, Black comes from nothing.
Sitting in her home in Washington, just 38 miles from the public-housing complex where she spent her early childhood, she attributes her success to her stubborn determination. “I never back down,” she admits in her soft drawl.
Even her own mother cautioned her ambitions. When Black told her she wanted to become a nurse, her mom replied, “ ‘Honey, we don’t have money for you to go to college. You just need to get married and have babies,’ ” remembers Black.
“I told her I want to have babies one day, but I want to be a nurse first.”
Now 67, she is on a quest to become the first female governor of Tennessee. She joins 77 other women across the country, both Democratic and Republican, who are seeking the chief-executive office in their individual home states in 2018, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.