(WASHINGTON) — Speaker Nancy Pelosi demurred on Sunday during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” about whether she intends to run for her position again if Democrats hang onto the House.
Pelosi’s comments to anchor George Stephanopoulos come after a stronger-than-anticipated performance by Democrats in the midterms in which they bucked historical trends to keep the Senate and still have a path to narrowly keep the House as vote counting continues.
“Right now I’m not making any comments until this election is finished, and we have a little more time to go,” she said of her future role in House leadership. “I wish it [the counting] was faster.”As of Sunday, ABC News estimates that Democrats will win 206 seats in the House to 211 for the Republicans. Eighteen seats have not been projected. Democrats would need to win 12 for the majority.
In 2018, in order to win the necessary votes to become speaker for a second time, Pelosi said she would limit her speakership for two terms, with her second term finishing this January. She has not said recently whether she will abide by that pledge.
Looking forward to 2024, Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi, “Do you think President [Joe] Biden should run again?”
“Yes, I do. … He has accomplished so much: over 10 million jobs under his leadership, working with the private sector, of course. He has just done so many things that are so great,” she said, adding: “He put money in people’s pockets, vaccines in their arms, children back to school, people back to work.”
Heading into Election Day, race experts at FiveThirtyEight and elsewhere had predicted Democrats could be running into a “red wave” that would deliver a yawning majority for Republicans, given how past midterm cycles had gone and voters’ sour feelings about the Biden White House and inflation.
Instead, Democrats in the House and Senate both defended incumbents in tight races and flipped seats held by Republicans, though the GOP could still win a razor-thin majority in the next Congress.
Democrats’ over-performance, Pelosi said on “This Week,” was fueled by ignoring the conventional wisdom and running on a playbook centered around protection of abortion access and democracy while emphasizing a kitchen-table focus on lowering prices.
“We never accepted when the pundits in Washington said we couldn’t win because history, history, history. Elections are about the future,” she said.
“I’m very proud of our candidates. … They had courage, they had purpose and they understood their district,” she continued.
Still, Pelosi said she was “disappointed” about the election results in New York, where Republicans flipped four House seats after an aggressive Democratic gerrymander was tossed in court.The GOP’s wins in New York are now key to whether they retake the lower chamber in Congress. Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi how she sees Republican leader Kevin McCarthy governing his caucus, as speaker, if he holds a small majority.
Pelosi noted that Democrats currently maintain a similar margin and have been successful in passing legislation.
“It depends on their purpose. In our House, we had those kinds of numbers. But we were united,” she said.
She said that it would be “very important” during the lame-duck session of Congress, before the new class of lawmakers is sworn in in January, to extend the country’s debt limit to avoid financial face-offs, as under President Barack Obama, when Republican lawmakers sought cuts to federal spending in order to increase the limit.
“Madam Speaker, if you do decide to step away from Congress, how do you want your speakerships to be remembered?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Well, I don’t have any plans to step away from Congress. You asked me about running for leadership,” Pelosi said.
As for her legacy, she pointed to the passage of the Affordable Care Act: “When we had the opportunity to expand health care for all Americans, that has to be my major accomplishment. I take great pride in that.”
Meanwhile, as former President Donald Trump prepares for a comeback bid, Pelosi said his candidacy would be “bad news for the country.”
“This is a person who has undermined the integrity of our elections, has not honored his oath of office, who has encouraged people, strange kinds of people, to run for office who do not share the values of our democracy,” she said. “So he’s not been a force for good.”
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