America, meet a responsible Republican — his name is Charlie Dent
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A Republican moderate.

One name, one face, one voice seems to symbolize that moniker. It is Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa).

What exactly is a Republican moderate and what does one with that label think and feel about the issues of the day and more importantly, about Donald J. Trump?

Charlie Dent is 57 years old. He is in his seventh term in the U.S. House.

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Dent represents the 15th District of Pennsylvania which encompasses the Lehigh Valley and such notable cities as Allentown, Bethlehem and Hershey. It is 77 percent white, 4 percent black and 13 percent Hispanic. Twenty six percent of the District's residents are college graduates. The median income is about $58,000 per year.

This district is universally called a "swing district." When pollsters in state and national elections want to sample which way the country or state is going, they invariably go there to talk to and study the electorate.

It is instructive to point out that this district twice voted for Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton'Vice' director Adam McKay torches Bill Clinton, would choose Trump over Bush Gorka: John F. Kennedy wouldn't be allowed in Democratic Party Election Countdown: Abrams ends fight in Georgia governor's race | Latest on Florida recount | Booker, Harris head to campaign in Mississippi Senate runoff | Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority MORE but did not vote for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation Questions grow about FBI vetting of Christopher Steele’s Russia expertise MORE in 2016. Dent got 59 percent in 2016.

The Freedom Caucus is a group of about 32 GOP Conservatives in the House who have received a great deal of attention and coverage.

Dent is the co-chair of another group. The Tuesday Group. This is a larger group of 51 House members who don't mind being called moderates and don't seem to get as much play and don't seem to have the political clout that the Freedom Caucus enjoys and revels in.

The two other co-chairs are Elise Stefanik of New York and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey. What distinguishes Dent is that he is not afraid or hesitant to call an influential segment of his own party the hard right.

This label and description in no way is meant to be a compliment. The current internal debate on the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare has inspired Dent to call the methods of some in his party in the most clear and blunt way.

"Trying to placate the hard right and get their bills out of the House knowing they have an uncertain fate in the Senate, just further exposes members in marginal districts politically because they know damn well the bill on the rebound from the Senate won't satisfy those on the hard right," Dent said in the Wall Street Journal. 

I sat down with Dent this week and asked him a variety of questions. First of all, he is extremely affable and easy to talk to. He smiles often and there is not a trace of hubris in him. He seems to enjoy being in office and when asked if he is worried about someone from the right running against him in a Republican primary, he calmly says, "I don't operate out of fear. I simply don't live that way."

This is a very attractive personal quality. He speaks knowledgeably about the issue of providing health insurance. He wants a "safe landing" for expanding Medicaid and states that four Republican governors are in favor of this provision.

He says there is "no easy solution." He feels that Obamacare failed "to drive the costs down." But above all, he claims that not "having one Republican vote in either House for the bill" created the division we now have.

He voted no on the new GOP version. But he does not criticize any of his fellow Tuesday Group members (MacArthur and Upton) who differ with him. He calls them "my friends."

When it comes to President Trump, he says he did not vote for him. He voted for Ed McMullen. When asked about some of Trumps outrageous statements he says "your words are policy."

What a refreshing concept.

Dent was for 8 years on the House Ethics Committee. Most recently as chair. He has since left that position and when asked about Trump's "conflict of interest" issues, I found Dent to be far too passive and insufficiently concerned.

He said "ideally Trump should have sold his interest and put those assets in a blind trust." But he describes Trump's actions in this department "a good attempt" and a "strong effort."

That in my opinion, it is just plain wrong and Dent is totally missing the boat on this potentially crucial issue of Presidential integrity.

When I brought up the issue of possible future impeachment, he became for the only time testy and said there's "too much talk of that." He pleaded with critics to "give him a chance."

His most favorable remarks had to do with Trump's picks on national security and foreign affairs. He cited Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as "first rate and first class."

Charlie Dent is rational. He believes deeply that legislation to succeed has to be "bipartisan." He "will help" Trump when he believes he is right but will be a "check and balance."

Don't expect Charlie Dent to go too far. He's not going to man the barricades and lead the Dump Trump movement. He's no firebrand and not radical.

He's just a very likeable Republican. The maximum moderate. That's not too much to ask for in a public official these days.  Just wish there were more Charlie Dents. 

It would be good for his party and best of all for the country.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. Previously, he was the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington's NPR affiliate, where he co-hosted the "D.C. Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He later became the political analyst for WTOP-FM, Washington's all-news radio station, where he hosted "The Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.