Ellison's Argument for DNC Chairmanship: 'I'm Actually Pretty Good' at Turning Out Vote'
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) argued this morning that he's the man for the Democratic National Committee job "because we need to turn out the vote and I'm actually pretty good at it."
Ellison noted on CNN that in Minnesota his congressional district "used to have the lowest turnout in any congressional district -- now it has the highest and we've been consistent on that."
"I believe that by getting out the vote, in say Milwaukee, Detroit, Flint, and in the suburbs of Philadelphia, we could have changed this whole election. Turnout is the key," he said. "We've seen actually Hillary Clinton got about 5 million fewer votes than Barack Obama and even Romney got more votes than Trump. The real problem for Democrats is we've got to help people believe and then we've got to deliver the message to them."
"Believe what? That we are absolutely, unshakably on their side and we're going to fight for them every single minute."
Pressed with the question over whether Dems might pick an African-American, Muslim chairman over someone who may connect better with white working-class voters, Ellison noted that his district is about 75 percent white, most without college degrees.
"I talk to white working-class voters every single day. In fact they elected me with 70 percent of the vote and I've been doing that now for six terms," he added. "...We've got to go and connect to the grassroots much, much more and we've got to message that way. We've got to make sure that labor is a key and fundamental partner of what we're doing."
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who is challenging Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for leadership of the caucus, told CNN on Sunday that he's staying out of the DNC leadership fight.
When presented with Ellison remarks made on Bill Maher's show that he wishes the Democratic Party would come out against the Second Amendment, Ryan simply replied that Dem leadership is "not my decision entirely to make."
"I really don't have a horse in that fight. And so the DNC members are going to have to make that decision," Ryan said.
"I was on the House floor when we were having this sit-in on guns. I think that's an important discussion we need to have, but not to give away the Second Amendment. I don't think that's appropriate," Ryan added. "But on the issue of gun violence, why do we have violence in our inner cities? It's economics. We -- it's poverty issues. This economic message should drive everything we talk about as Democrats."
Ellison told CBS on Sunday that the Democrats' argument should not just be about President-elect Donald Trump.
"We're going to fight him because he stands against our value system. But if we make the average American's needs our priority, people who want to retire, people who want to see their kids go to college, people who want to earn a decent living, people anxious about the plant closing down, moving to another country and selling them back the products that they used to make," Ellison said. "If we make those people the priority, we will win and Donald Trump will be relegated to be a footnote in the dustbin of history. That is what we got to do, focus on our people."