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Pelosi: 'Every Place I Go' People Say 'Thank You for Saving America'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said today that “every place” she goes people tell her “thank you for saving America.”

“Winning 23 seats in a voter-suppressed, gerrymandered map was a wave — was a wave. I’d always knew we would win that, but now we’re getting up to 40,” she said of the still-undecided races. “That’s really a very big — almost a tsunami. We’ll see.”

“The thrill of it all is that 30 — half the members — the new members in our Democratic class are women,” she added. “One on the Republican side — happy for that one person, but sad to say just one.”

So far, 17 House Democrats have pledged in a letter to vote against Pelosi for speaker in the 116th Congress. Pelosi told reporters at today’s Capitol Hill press conference that she was “largely responsible for most of the resources that went into those campaigns” of the reticent freshmen lawmakers.

“That didn’t matter to me. I just said, ‘Just win — just win, baby,'” she said.

With rumblings that even more Dems will vote against her for speaker, Pelosi said she’s still confident she has the votes to win, though she said there are “certainly” other people in the caucus who could fill the role.

Asked if she would “accept Republican help to win the gavel,” Pelosi dismissively responded, “Oh, please.”

“No, never, never, never,” she added.

“I intend to win the speakership with Democratic votes… I happen to think that I — at this point, I’m the best person for that.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) is toying with the idea of challenging Pelosi. “I don’t hate Nancy. I think Nancy has been a very good leader,” Fudge told HuffPost. “I just think it’s time for a new one.”

“I don’t have a pitch because at this point I’ve not decided I’m going to run,” Fudge said, “but I would say this: My concern about the caucus is the same concern I have about the country. Just as there is this undertone of racism in the country, there’s also that in our caucus.”

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told CNN on Wednesday that Fudge would be “incredible” as speaker.

“First of all, she’s a woman of color from the Midwest. She’s someone who understands the economic challenges so many Americans face today. She is someone who is in touch with a broad swath of the American people. She is someone who is very, very wise, who people throughout our caucus go to for advice, and she’s someone who can bring this party together. Rather than be a divisive leader who is trying to constantly clear the bench of potential challengers rather than build the bench of grassroots support, Congresswoman Fudge is someone who really can bring this party together at a time when Americans need leadership. When the party needs — when the party needs unity, and we need someone who can be focused on the future,” Moulton said. “She is someone that people will look at and say, that’s the future of our party. That’s the future of our country. And I don’t think people look at our current leadership and see that right now.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) argued on CNN this morning that voters wanted “a change in policies, not so much personalities or people.”

“People have to make a judgment. My own judgment is the party needs to be unified on behalf of the policies that we promoted and pledged to in the course of this campaign. They were pretty specific. In my opinion, that’s why we won the election. Not based upon personalities. The Republicans went after, as they have in the past over the last decade or two, Ms. Pelosi,” Hoyer said. “But what people voted on was they believe the policies we were promoting and supporting were better for them. I think that’s why we won. I think that’s what we will promote.”