PoliZette

House Democratic Leader Thrice Denies Support for Pelosi

Assistant minority whip refuses to back embattled leader as caucus discontent grows

Nancy Pelosi’s tenuous grasp on her position atop her caucus took another blow Wednesday when a fellow member of Democratic House leadership repeatedly declined to offer the embattled House minority leader his support.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) addressed reports that he had attended a Democratic House meeting in late June in which at least a dozen members discussed how and if they should work toward removing Pelosi, 77, from her leadership post in favor of a younger and fresher representative.

Cárdenas, the House Democratic assistant whip, declined to offer Pelosi his support during an interview Wednesday on CNN.

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“I think that those meetings are necessary. We’re a body of members elected by the public,” Cárdenas began in response as he skirted the question. “And the bottom line is this: The question that I have to my colleagues, are we putting our best foot forward? What do we need to do?”

CNN anchor John Berman again tried to nail down whether the Democratic congressman believed the party should continue with Pelosi as its House leader.

“Does that mean with, or without Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader?” Herman directly asked Cárdenas.

Cárdenas declined to respond to the question, saying, “No one person is more important than this country.”

“And the bottom line is this: We need to move forward with our best foot forward, with the best plan, with the best individuals and having the best, honest message,” Cárdenas continued.

The CNN anchors pressed him one last time about whether Pelosi should remain in the leadership position she has held for 14 years.

“As far as I’m concerned, we have to look in the mirror and realize whether we can or can’t,” Cárdenas replied. “And then move forward and make some tough decisions.”

Cárdenas’ implicit refusal to stand up for Pelosi came as the House minority leader continues to deal with fallout over Democrats’ massive 2016 election losses and a crushing defeat in a special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in June.

The GOP spent millions of dollars on the Georgia contest, tying Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff to Pelosi and her liberal California values. Ossoff’s loss to Republican Karen Handel sparked a new round of questions among Democrats about Pelosi’s future.

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“There are many more people today, even from November, who are much more vocal, who have approached us and said, ‘I’m done. We need to move forward and we need to get a new leadership team in place,'” Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) said after attending the June meeting, according to Politico. “There is a consensus, I think, that we can reach in the caucus that allows for a new leadership team to be put in place in a time that’s well before, hopefully, November of next year.”

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who challenged Pelosi for the position of House minority leader in November, said in late June on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that “the reality is the fact that we have to go into 2018 with a leader who has been damaged, and the caucus at the end of the day has to make a decision.”

“I think it would be hard for us to say after $5 million dollars being spent tying [Ossoff] to her, that it didn’t have some effect. I mean, the Republicans wouldn’t still be using this if it didn’t have some effect,” Ryan added. “And so it’s still being used for a reason, and I think that’s a discussion that we need to have.” (go to page 2 to continue reading)[lz_pagination]

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].