Nancy Pelosi exudes confidence for winning House in closing argument to be its next speaker

While the audience cheered, a nervous Stephen Colbert performed the sign of the cross.His guest, Hous...

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 12:38 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 12:38 PM

While the audience cheered, a nervous Stephen Colbert performed the sign of the cross.

His guest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, had just predicted with absolute certainty that Democrats would win back the House on election night.

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"We will win," she said last week on CBS' "The Late Show," repeating it again three times in a row.

Colbert, playfully uncomfortable in his chair, urged her not to say it. "I feel like I should sacrifice a goat or something to take the hex off," he quipped.

At a time when many in her party feel wary of forecasting a victory -- mindful of Hillary Clinton's unexpected loss in 2016 -- Pelosi isn't holding back.

Just days later in an interview on MSNBC, she declared it again.

"We will win," she said Saturday. "I say to commentators who are not on the ground or listening to the ground, we will win. So, I'm confident."

Pelosi isn't, however, making any predictions of just how big a majority Democrats could capture -- a crucial factor in her chances of becoming speaker again. Instead, she's been publicly focused on just getting that "W," even if that means supporting Democrats who are campaigning on a pledge to vote against her.

"I said to the candidates, 'Just win. This is so important,' " she said in the MSNBC interview.

But central to a Democratic majority is the possibility of another Pelosi speakership. Republicans have spent millions trying to tie Democrats in competitive races to the California Democrat and House minority leader, someone they brand as a San Francisco liberal eager to drive the country into oblivion.

On Monday, while campaigning in Ohio, President Donald Trump invoked Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in American political history, as part of his closing argument before Election Day.

"If you don't want to be saying the words 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,' get out and vote for a Republican House," he said.

Historic tenure, strong headwinds

Pelosi was the first woman to hold the speaker's gavel when Democrats were last in the minority, from 2007 to 2011. In that position, she helped shepherd through the economic stimulus package, the banking overhaul bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Affordable Care Act to passage.

Since Democrats went back into the minority in 2011, Pelosi has remained the leader of House Democrats and the most powerful woman in Congress. She largely kept the caucus together, with practically no defections on major votes.

Pelosi, who has represented San Francisco for three decades in Congress, is a fundraising juggernaut for House Democrats. This cycle alone she helped raise more than $121 million for her party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

While Democratic members laud her leadership, many have said -- some more vocally than others -- in recent months that it is time for a new generation of leaders. And 11 Democratic candidates in toss-up races said openly that they would not support her for speaker.

That's in part because Republicans have made her their main opponent in ads across the country, attempting to tie any new Democrat closely to her. For Republicans in House and Senate races this year, 17% of ads mentioned Pelosi, costing more than $89.3 million, according to the ad-tracking Kantar Media/CMAG.

While the ads make news, it's unclear yet just how effective they are in voters' decisions. In August, just 34% of registered voters said in a CNN poll that Pelosi will be an extremely or very important factor in their votes this fall. That ranked dead last of the 10 factors CNN asked about.

Still, Pelosi is facing headwinds from a small but vocal contingent within her party that doesn't want to see her as speaker again. Led by members like Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Tim Ryan of Ohio, they argue that Pelosi hasn't done enough to make room for a younger generation of Democrats.

She has no challenger yet -- though Ryan is considering a run -- and appears the heavy favorite to win, but the math could get tricky for her if Democrats win by only a slim majority and some continue with their vow to oppose her for speaker.

'Transitional leader'

To help assuage concerns among the caucus, Pelosi pitched herself before the election as a "transitional" leader who would operate as a short-term speaker to help navigate the caucus as it decided its next leaders -- though it was unclear just how long she planned to hold the reins.

She downplays the Republican ads targeting her as well as intra-party tension over her speakership chances, saying she's not going to shy away from a fight.

"Hey, we're in politics," she told The New York Times in a recent interview. "What did people think they were going to, a tea party?"

"I feel very confident about the following that I have in the country," she also told The Times. "And if the Republicans want to spend $100 million criticizing me, demonizing me, I must be pretty important."

In an interview with The Washington Post published the day before Election Day, Pelosi made her case for speaker.

"My argument's been about what needs to be done and who's the best person to get it done," she said. "Nobody is indispensable. But I do think that I am best qualified to take us into the future, protect the Affordable Care Act, to do our infrastructure bill and the rest. Stepping down this path, I know the ropes."

Protecting the Affordable Care Act has been the key focus of her message, right to the very end. On Monday, Pelosi issued a Dear Colleague letter to her caucus, summing up its work over the past two years, while also looking to the future.

While the letter mentions that oversight and accountability will be a key component of a Democratic majority, the No. 1 priority listed is health care. Pelosi pointed to the Democrats' successful messaging efforts last year in helping to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

"With one voice, we affirmed that health care is a right, not a privilege," she wrote.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
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Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
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George510680
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Tippah495483
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Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
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Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
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Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
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DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
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Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
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