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Gianforte lauds free press ahead of swearing-in

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - After 18 months on the road and 80,000 miles traveled for two campaigns, U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte will soon be casting votes as a member of the U.S. House.

To watch NBC Montana's full interview with U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte, click here.

Gianforte is traveling to Washington on Tuesday, and House Speaker Paul Ryan is scheduled to administer the oath of office to him Wednesday in the House chamber.

As a prelude to his swearing in, Gianforte appointed several political veterans to help run his office.

He told NBC Montana in an interview before he left Montana he brings with him new lessons learned about Montana and about himself.

"I've fallen more deeply in love with this state, and my commitment to serve the people here is stronger," Gianforte explained. "I think about myself, I've learned that I'm human and I can make mistakes, and I'll take that lesson with me."

Last week Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for attacking reporter Ben Jacobs on the day before the election. Hours after the attac, the Gianforte campaign released a statement painting Jacobs as the aggressor. Gianforte later took responsibility for the incident and issued an apology to Jacobs. He says he is now committed to restoring civility to political discourse and credits the news media as an important institution.

"We need to respect the press in how they pursue the truth. As a public official I need to make myself available and answer questions, and the respect really has to go in both directions," Gianforte said. When asked to explain who wrote the initial release that he later acknowledged was misleading Gianforte did not provide a clear answer.

"I'm pleased he was able to accept that apology, and he's also said he wants to leave this event behind us," Gianforte said of Jacobs. "I think that's what I need to do, as well, and focus, really, on serving the people of Montana in this position I've been elected to do."

Gianforte says he will continue to focus on bringing more accountability to Washington during his first few months in office while representing the interests of the people of Montana.

"I want to preserve the Montana way of life from federal overreach for the next generation," Gianforte said.

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