'A great experience'
Erika Harold isn't expecting a regular turn on NBC's "Meet the Press," but she had "a great experience" in her brief appearance on the longtime Sunday morning news program.
What's next for Erika? Ask Tom Kacich here
Harold, the Urbana native who was defeated in the 13th Congressional District Republican primary in March but continues to attract the attention of conservatives, was part of Sunday's roundtable discussion with host David Gregory, political columnists David Brooks and E,J. Dionne and BBC anchor Katty Kay. The group discussed the world's top news stories, including Iraq, immigration, an IRS scandal and the World Cup. (Harold predicted a 2-0 USA soccer victory over Portugal, a game that ended 2-2).
"I believe the political roundtable is a feature of every episode of 'Meet the Press,' and they just asked me if I would be interested in participating, and I was honored and delighted to join," said Harold, a local attorney who was the 2003 Miss America.
She said she had "no idea" why she was chosen to appear on the longest-running program in American television history, and the invitation was "completely out of the blue."
"I think they invite different guests when they have a sense of what will be the news stories that will be dominating on the weekend," she said. "I think they try to mix up their groups every week, so I don't think they have a regular group of contributors, but I think they try to have a group of people who they think are compelling analysts. I was just there as someone who has some experience in politics and has some opinions on the topics they were discussing.
"As someone who has watched the show for many years, it was surreal to walk onto the set and see the 'Meet the Press' mugs and hear the music. It was a great experience."
The invitation came at an opportune time, Harold said, because she was in the Washington, D.C., area for a meeting of the Prison Fellowship board, on which she sits, and a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, where she delivered a speech Friday night. There, she said she talked about religious freedom and the work she has done in prison ministry.
Although Harold has kept a relatively low profile since her 55 percent to 41 percent loss to Rep. Rodney Davis in March, she said she plans to stay in politics, be more outspoken on issues and causes and possibly endorse other candidates.
"There have been lots of civic groups throughout the state and country that have reached out to me to see if I can speak at their event or support their cause in some way, but I'm trying to make a concerted effort to focus on some local issues as well because I was so overwhelmed and humbled to receive such strong support in this community, and I want to show my gratitude and appreciation for that support," said Harold, who got 70 percent of the vote in Champaign County to Davis' 28 percent.
"And if candidates reach out to me to see if I can be supportive of their campaigns, I'm happy to have those kinds of conversations. I'm focused now on developing my practice at (Champaign law firm) Meyer Capel and being involved in some of the civic and philanthropic issues that are important to me.
"I do hope to run for office again in the future," Harold said.
During her congressional campaign, Harold said her interest was in Congress and national issues, but this week she said she was open to seeking a state office.
"I have not ruled out running for anything that involved Springfield because I think our state is in dire financial circumstances," she said. "But I'm realistic about what can be achieved at this time."