Rachel Campos-Duffy is mother of nine and a master of setting and reaching goals … and she literally writes the book on it.
“Family is more important than politics. ”
She’s known by millions as a Fox News Contributor not afraid to speak her mind on hot topics ranging from religion in schools to Trump’s immigration policies. Actually, she’s known by millions since the ‘90s as the outspoken MTV Real World and Road Rules reality star, then The View co-host, who regularly makes headlines for her outspoken views on religion and conservative politics. Some say she’s controversial. Most say she has the sweetest smile they’ve ever seen. And, if you’ve ever met her, you’d say she’s just so darn likable.
I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever agreed on one political topic Rachel has ever brought up, but I felt like we were instant BFFs the moment we met during her first cover shoot for CATALINA over a decade ago. I was supposed to make sure everything was running smoothly. Rachel and I accidentally made a friendship based on our similarities and our laundry list of differences. And, in divided times like these, this friendship reminds me how amazing a bond between women can, and should, be. Then again, Rachel is a master of setting and reaching goals (and being a good friend and an inspiration to others is one of her goals).
What we see on television is who Rachel is in real life. She’s energetic, passionate, and busy! So darn busy!
“It’s always something,” she jokes with me, as she’s getting ready to give a speech in Miami, Florida on a Saturday, only hours after flying in from an event in Washington, D.C. (Did I mention that her husband is the former MTV star Sean Duffy, and a fiveterm congressman from Wisconsin?). Plus, she’s wrapping up a two-week book tour about immigrants reaching their American Dream – one of the proudest projects of her career.
But how does a mother of nine name the children’s book after one of her children, Paloma? I mean, that would be an all out war at my house, and I don’t even have nine kids. Not even three. Rachel laughs at me about my limited balancing skills at home. “It was a family affair,” she explained, “Paloma’s story is her story. And it brings the whole family together.” The mom who keeps a clean home (yep, she’s a clean freak, in the good way) said her children of all ages, from the teenagers to the little ones, had a say in Paloma’s book.
And, if you have your opinion about Rachel’s political views, good or bad, try to put those aside for a second and enjoy this CATALINA chat with a Latina mom who reminds all immigrants that reaching for and attaining the American Dream is possible. After all, her mom did it, she’s doing it, and all of our children will do it. Rachel’s book Paloma Wants to be Lady Freedom reminds us of all that is possible, plus more.
Cathy: If I’m correct, this is your second book. Why did you opt for a children’s book?
Rachel: I have always want to write a children’s book because I love children’s literature. I was actually a teaching assistant for a children’s literature class in graduate school and I loved it. I have a library, or study., in my home with a whole section devoted to children’s books. Children’s literature is powerful and informative because the reader is young and receptive. Paloma Wants to be Lady Freedom is a sweet story, but it also imparts important ideas and values: courage, patriotism, freedom, and an appreciation for our amazing and unifying American history. As the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, it is also a deeply personal story. In the story, Paloma’s daddy becomes a citizen, and I was around the same age as the character when my mom became an American citizen. Like Paloma in the story, I didn’t really have an appreciation for what that meant to my mother. Paloma Wants to be Lady Freedom is story of an immigrant family – an American family – who takes an exciting and meaningful family road trip to our nation’s Capitol. During Paloma’s adventure she learns courage, history, and an appreciation for America – our home.
Cathy: You don’t keep your political views a secret. Anyone who watches Fox News knows that. Does your book have a left or right political point of view?
Rachel: No. I believe that my book is a very American book and totally nonpartisan. In fact, I can’t think of a better time to introduce it when our national politics have become so polemic and divisive. So many children’s books nowadays focus on diversity, which is a fine thing – but ultimately, diversity is about the things that make us different. I wanted to write a book for children and their parents about all the things that unite us as Americans. We all love freedom. We share a common history. We all want the American Dream. We have so much more in common than we often think.
Cathy: You’re in the middle of politics every day – with your husband working in D.C. and you working for cable news. How would you describe politics today?
Rachel: Entertaining. Exhausting. And very divisive. One of the saddest things I saw over the last election cycle was a negative political ad starring the siblings of a candidate for Congress. How sad to see a family divided over politics and publicly humiliating their brother. Family is more important than politics. One of the hopes for my book is that we can start to see each other as Americans instead of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. As one family.
Cathy: You’re the mom in a family with lots of kids. What do they think of politics? Are any interested in following in your or their dad’s footsteps?
Rachel: My kids are very informed. They know so much more about American history, government, civics and politics than I ever knew at their ages. One of the greatest honors for me as a mom married to a member of Congress was to see my children walk the halls of Congress at such young and formative ages. The U.S. House of Representatives allows the children of members of congress to come onto the House floor with their parent. Only members of Congress and their children under the age of 12 are afforded that privilege Some of my kids have punched the voting card in for their dad. What an amazing experience. They love our beautiful Capitol building, the architecture, paintings and history of it all. I wanted to share their awe and fascination with our Capitol building with other children and their parents. I hope it inspires many road trips!
Cathy: Who is the little girl in your book?
Rachel: She is inspired by my little girl, Paloma. My Paloma is 11 years old now, but we brought her to Washington D.C. for the first time when she was 4 years old, shortly after my husband was first elected to Congress. She became fascinated with our magnificent Capitol building and in particular with the gorgeous statue that stands on top of it – Lady Freedom. I learned all I could about Lady Freedom to feed her curiosity. Paloma decided she wanted to be Lady Freedom. It is that sweet story that inspired my character, Paloma. ■