Pelosi predicts fierce Trump backlash – Politico
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi isn’t going anywhere.
In an interview with POLITICO on Monday, the California Democrat, facing a long-shot leadership challenge from Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, insisted she’s the only one who can bring Democrats back to the House majority. Just remember 2006, she said. After President George W. Bush won reelection, Republicans were dreaming of a “permanent majority” until Democrats trounced them the following election, vaulting Pelosi into the speaker’s chair.
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And Donald Trump will supply the ammo for a repeat performance, Pelosi predicted.
Yet there is one thing the 76-year-old Democrat leader won’t discuss: when she’s going to leave.
“I don’t intend on this phone call, or any conversation with members, to make myself a lame duck,” Pelosi said. “What you have to do when you’re going into this is to go in with the most strength as possible. That’s just the way it is.”
“I know how to do this,” she added. “I’m not asking anyone to support me for what I have done, one thing or another, whether it’s politics or policy or money. I’m asking them to support me on what I will do in the future.”
Pelosi, however, also knows that after 14 years of running the House Democratic Caucus, coupled with the party’s dismal showing on Election Day, there is significant dissension in her ranks. So she’s planning on remaking the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, giving more members a say in the Democratic messaging operation, and appointing “vice-chairs” on committees to, give lower-ranking lawmakers additional input.
While none of these concessions directly diminish Pelosi’s authority, they’re designed to defuse the unhappiness among junior Democrats. Many of them complain privately they don’t have a say in formulating strategy or message. The question is whether that will be enough or whether Pelosi will have to implement more changes.
“Yes, I have been listening to members. Some of this they have already empowered me to do, and some of this is analogous to 2005-06,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi will be presenting some recommendations to the caucus soon.
“I want to move this along as quickly as possible — not hastily, because we want to get input from everybody — but as quickly as possible because we have some real issues to deal with,” Pelosi said, pointing to looming policy clashes with the incoming Trump administration over Medicare and entitlement programs.
Yet Pelosi repeatedly brings up the events of a decade ago. For her, the lesson is clear — past is prologue. What worked before will work again. Trump and the Republicans will overreach, and Democrats have to be ready to jump at the opportunity when they do.
The problem with this approach is that roughly half her caucus was not in office at that time, and they don’t remember Pelosi’s role in leading a dispirited party into the majority. All they can see now is four consecutive bad election cycles — 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 — with their party sliding further into the minority.
This year was supposed to be different, with Trump at the top of the ticket. Yet Democrats netted only a half-dozen seats (a few races are still uncalled), far short of the double-digit gains Pelosi had been predicting for months.
Another challenge is that Democrats did a formal review after they got clobbered in the 2014 election, an effort led by retiring Rep. Steve Israel of New York, a close Pelosi ally. So now, for the second time in two years, Democrats are again having to revamp their operations to deal with an electoral mishap.
Even Pelosi — who is overwhelmingly favored to be reelected as Democratic leader on Nov. 30 — can overcome only so many of those episodes. She needs to show progress on some front.
But if Pelosi is sweating the challenge from Ryan at all, she clearly isn’t showing it. In a half-hour interview, she never mentioned his name once. Pelosi has continued to quietly reach out to members, personally calling the entire Democratic Caucus — including newly elected members — to ask for support.