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While encouraging her willingness to be aggressive on the House floor, leaders at times have sought to quietly rein it in. For example, while waiting for a press conference after House Republicans unanimously rejected the Democratic stimulus bill earlier this year, Boehner turned to an exuberant Foxx and reminded her that there was no smiling in front of the cameras.
Foxxs most public gaffe came last week during debate over the hate crimes bill. One of the pieces of the bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old man murdered in 1998 because of his sexual orientation. Foxx said naming the bill for Shepard was a hoax because his murder wasnt because he was gay.
It was outrageous, stupid, ignorant, inaccurate and vicious, said Frank, one of three openly gay House Members.
Foxx later apologized. In the heat of trying to handle the rule on the floor, anybody can use a bad choice of words. Saying that the event was a hoax was a poor choice of words, Foxx told a North Carolina TV station. Ive apologized for that. I never meant in any way to harm the family or offend the family, or anybody else for that matter.
Myrick, a longtime friend of Foxxs, said that she learned a hard lesson.
In politics when you do things off the cuff, thats what usually causes these kind of moments, Myrick said. I know Virginias heart, and I know Virginia did not mean to be cruel or hurtful to anybody.
She added, It was a mistake she made. She said that it was stupid and she realizes that.
One North Carolina political strategist said Foxxs work ethic was impressive at home and inside the Capitol, but that her inability to communicate the Republican message effectively could end up hurting the party.
I dont see how its been helpful, the strategist said. The party should do what it can to raise the profile of females and minorities, but a lot of the time the people we put out front may not be the most effective spokesmen.
Given her tenacious personality, its unlikely that Foxx will be going anywhere anytime soon.
In 2004, Foxx defeated seven men in the most expensive primary race in history to become the first woman to ever serve in her Congressional seat.
She said she learned the value of hard work growing up poor at a time when opportunities for women were few and far between.
I came up at a time when, particularly for women, I always felt that the only way for a woman to get ahead was to work harder then the men around her, Foxx said. And so I developed that early in life, and I just continue to do it.
I also have a real passion for what I do, Foxx said. I wish I could do more. My husband thinks Im nuts. I tell him all the time that I really resent sleeping, because I think about all the things I could be doing. Im constantly trying to do two things at one time to make the most use of my time.
Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.