Obama praises 'extraordinary' Pelosi amid leadership battle

Former President Barack Obama offered effusive praise of Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday as the Democratic leader fa...

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 3:54 AM
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 3:54 AM

Former President Barack Obama offered effusive praise of Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday as the Democratic leader faces opposition to her bid for House Speaker.

"I think Nancy Pelosi, when the history is written, will go down as one of the most effective legislative leaders that this country's ever seen," Obama said at a live taping of "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

Barack Obama

Beto O'Rourke

David Axelrod

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Legislation

Michelle Obama

Nancy Pelosi

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US House of Representatives

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"The Axe Files" is hosted by David Axelrod, Obama's former top strategist and a CNN political commentator.

The interview comes as both Barack and Michelle Obama return to the public spotlight after spending most of the first year and a half of Donald Trump's presidency off the stage. Michelle Obama is touring to promote her book, while Barack Obama spent the weeks before the midterm elections campaigning for Democratic candidates.

Obama's praise of Pelosi comes as a group of House Democrats who are seeking generational change in the party's top ranks argue Pelosi has become a political anchor around its candidates.

Obama said he didn't want to weigh in on the leadership fight but called Pelosi an "extraordinary partner" before complimenting her abilities as a legislator.

"Nancy is not always the best on a cable show or with a quick soundbite or what have you," Obama said. "But her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision, is remarkable. Her stamina, her ability to see around corners, her ability to stand her ground and do hard things and to suffer unpopularity to get the right thing done, I think, stands up against any person that I've observed or worked directly with in Washington during my lifetime."

Obama said instead of "performance art," what's most important are the "nuts and bolts" of governance -- "the blocking and tackling involved in actually getting things across the finish line."

"And my experience has been that Nancy Pelosi knows how to do that, and she was an extraordinary partner for me throughout my presidency," Obama said.

Obama also said in the interview that he and Trump have "contrasting visions" about the United States.

"I think what's unique about America is our aspirations to be a large, successful, multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, pluralistic democracy," he said.

"Do you think that's President Trump's vision?" Axelrod asked.

"No, obviously not," Obama said. "We have contrasting visions about what America is. And, you know, that's self-apparent. But what I would say is that the majority of Americans believe in that story. And there is power in that story."

Obama talks guns, filibusters

In the interview, Obama also detailed his frustrations with the hurdles he faced on Capitol Hill, saying he favors abolishing the Senate's 60-vote threshold to break the filibuster and advance legislation and lambasting Republicans for failing to back new gun laws.

Obama's comments came a day after a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago in which three people and the gunman were killed.

He said the hardest day of his presidency was the Sandy Hook shooting.

"The angriest I was ever during my presidency was seeing Congress not doing anything about it. Completely unresponsive," Obama said.

He complained that mass shootings in the United States are followed by "this Kabuki dance of, 'We're offering thoughts and prayers,'" and then no action.

"The NRA and the entirety, just about, of the Republican Party, and some Democrats ... would just shut off any discussion of dealing with this public health crisis that does not exist anywhere else," he said.

Obama also said the Senate should abolish the filibuster, a move that would mean legislation requires just a simple majority of votes to pass.

He said his agenda was repeatedly stymied by Republicans because of the filibuster, and that he failed to turn Washington's gridlock into an issue that motivated voters.

"I'm the first to confess, you know, I was not able to give this message effectively," Obama said.

"It's just not the stuff that moved people to vote, and the other side didn't get punished for it," Obama said. "We couldn't focus enough attention on the fact that the basic norms of governance that took place for prior presidents suddenly didn't hold for us."

Obama praises Beto O'Rourke's Texas Senate run

Obama, when asked about Beto O'Rourke, praised the Democratic congressman who shattered online fundraising records and visited all 254 of counties in Texas on the way to a closer-than-expected loss to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

He called O'Rourke an "impressive young man who ran a terrific race in Texas."

"What I liked most about his race was that it didn't feel constantly poll-tested," Obama said. "It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed. And that, you'd like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly it's not."

He also compared O'Rourke to himself.

"The reason I was able to make a connection with a sizeable portion of the country was because people had a sense that I said what I meant," Obama said. "And that's a quality that, as I look at what I'm sure will be a strong field of candidates in 2020, many of whom are friends of mine and whom I deeply respect -- what I oftentimes am looking for first and foremost is, do you seem to mean it? Are you in this thing cause you have a strong set of convictions that you are willing to risk things for?"

When Axelrod pressed Obama on whether O'Rourke struck him as someone who fit that description, Obama said, "Yes, and I think there are others. We've got a number of people who are thinking about the race who I think fall in that same category."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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