House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded Thursday to criticism of her leadership and the growing calls for her to step aside, including from fellow Democrats who believe she should make room for a younger generation to take the reins.
“I have a following in the country that’s unsurpassed by anybody, unless they’re running for president,” Pelosi told The Associated Press.
“This is not anything to make a big fuss over, it’s politics,” she commented on the challenges to her leadership. “I can take the heat and that’s why I stay in the kitchen.”
Talk of Pelosi stepping down, has come recently from Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), the fifth-ranking House Democrat, who called for a “generational change” in the leadership, pointing out that the top three House Democrats, Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) , and Clyburn (SC), are all “of the same generation,” in their late 70s.
Recently, third-ranking House Democrat Jim Clyburn has remarked that he would run for Speaker if the Democrats take back control after the midterm elections and Pelosi can’t get the votes for the top position.
A lot of new people have come in and said, ‘Look, do I have to be here 30 years before I insert myself into the leadership group?’," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) told AP. He reportedly sees Clyburn’s potential bid as “influential in putting votes from the Congressional Black Caucus in play.”
Democratic candidates in competitive races have also found it useful to disavow Pelosi on the campaign trail and promise not to back her as Speaker of the House.
“If they have to do that to win the election, I’m all for winning,” Pelosi said in an interview with Politico Playbook.
She remains defiant in the face of challenges, telling AP she won’t run from a fight.
“It’s immodest of me to say, but I say to women now, ‘Just go for it,’” Pelosi said. “Tell them why you think you’re the best person to do this job. I want to be an example to them, just to say, ‘Don’t run away from a fight.’ If you think you’re the one that should be there, you make the fight.”