Madison Cawthorn says he won primary by outworking rivals 'like Trump outworked Hillary campaign'

Cawthorn's 2014 auto accident, which left him $3 million in debt, provides unique insight into making health care more affordable, he says

Updated: July 4, 2020 - 10:16am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook



Madison Cawthorn was until a few weeks ago just one of hundreds of candidates competing for the 435 House seats up for grabs this year. But his surprise, June 23 victory over a Trump-backed candidate in North Carolina has thrust him into the national spotlight and given him a unique opportunity to shape health care policy.

The 24-year Cawthorn was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2014 auto accident that also left him $3 million in medical debt and prepared to offer Congress, if he wins in November, first-hand knowledge on how to improve the country’s health care system. 

His idea of making health care affordable includes limiting government's role in the U.S. health care system and allowing the marketplace to provide more affordable options, Cawthorn told Just the News this week in an exclusive interview.

Cawthorn also said he believes his generation is going to lead the way in helping Americans to be more liberty minded. 

“I think this will be the patriot generation,” he said. “We will head toward more liberty-based policies than the generation before us.”

A Cawthorn win this fall in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district would make him the youngest member of Congress in U.S. history.

His chances are good considering the Cook Partisan Voter Index has the district is rated Republican +14. 

Cawthorn downplays the media narrative that he knocked off a Trump candidate in the primary and makes clear he didn’t run as an anti-Trump candidate and that in fact supports the president’s agenda. 

“Donald Trump called me from Air Force One on the night of the victory,” Cawthorn said. “It’s clear he loves winners. We outworked my opponent, just as Trump outworked the Hillary campaign.”

Cawthorn is an eighth-generation North Carolinian whose descendants fought in the Revolutionary War. 

He told Just the News that he decided to run for office out of love for his state and to preserve American values for future generations. 

“I just got engaged. My fiancé and I were having conversations about how we wanted to raise our future kids and what we wanted,” he said. “I believe we are moving away from free market capitalism and the liberties we enjoy. That’s not a place where I want to raise my kids. We are being led by cowards in the House and Senate. I’m excited to go up to Washington and do what I said I was going to do.”

Cawthorn was nominated in 2014 to the U.S. Naval Academy by former North Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, now Trump’s chief of staff. But his plans changed that same year when the automobile accident nearly took his life and left him paralyzed in a wheelchair

“The lesson that surprised me the most from this experience was the lesson of empathy,” he said. “It made me be able to empathize with people who had different struggles, different backgrounds and didn’t feel represented. I believe this experience made me a more compassionate conservative. I believe conservatives have had a problem with messaging. We need to get to the hearts of the people we represent. I understand conservative principles but also have compassion.”

His winning platform also includes making internet service more accessible in rural areas, supporting the “one-bill-one subject” idea, which supporters say will provide more transparency in legislation, compared to so-called omnibus bills that are full of tucked-away provisions.

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