In talking about the Democrats’ down-ballot chances in November, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today was careful not to say much to spoil Donald Trump’s chance of being the GOP nominee.
Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference that she’s “confident about in this presidential year, the clear contrast between Democrats and Republicans.”
“I think that contrast is a stark one and the American people will identify with our Democratic initiatives under that framework,” she said. “We have great candidates. The optimism that I have springs from the enthusiasm of people who are stepping forward to run. So we have the candidates.”
Pelosi said that under Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) “we had a very successful year in terms of mobilization, messaging and money — the three M’s.”
The Dem leader was pressed on what difference it might make in terms of the party’s success in House races if Trump is the nominee.
“Well, if I say we want Trump, then that means we think that that enhances our prospects, so that might reduce his support,” Pelosi replied. “I don’t really get involved in the Republican nomination for president. You know that. I barely get involved in the Democratic nomination for president.”
“But whoever they choose, we will be ready to make the contrast, because it’s not just about personalities, although that counts in a presidential. It’s about policy. And it’s about how the American people identify with someone who identifies with their aspirations, who understand them, who knows them,” she continued.
“And so I wish them well in their process, whoever they nominate. We feel very confident that we will be able to defeat and to do so in a way that lets many more members into the House and Senate and state legislatures across the country.”
Trump sent Pelosi a note after she became speaker of the House in 2007: “Nancy — you’re the best. Congrats. Donald.”
Pelosi was then asked about Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) citizenship, which she called “inside baseball of the Republican Party.”
“It’s up to them to decide,” Pelosi said. “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family and serving our country in Panama than someone born in another country. But again, this is a constitutional issue…my opinion means nothing here.”
“I’m more concerned about the fact that Republicans in Congress think that trying to stop gun violence in our country is a distraction; that their first legislative act is to defund Planned Parenthood. That’s really what my focus is, not where Ted Cruz was born.”
McCain told a CBS affiliate in Phoenix that Cruz’s status as a natural-born citizen — born in Calgary to an American mother and Cuban father — should be explored.
“I think there is a question. I’m not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it,” McCain said.