News & Politics

Embattled Pelosi Gets Boost With Obama Praise

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Facing a humiliating rejection by her own party, Nancy Pelosi got a boost today from former president Obama, who praised her as “one of the most effective legislative leaders that this country’s ever seen.”

Yesterday, House Democrats went public with their opposition to her leadership.

Politico:

Sixteen Democrats vowed Monday to oppose Nancy Pelosi for speaker on the House floor, throwing the California Democrat’s bid to reclaim the gavel in serious jeopardy.

In a highly anticipated letter that went public Monday, the Democrats praised Pelosi as “a historic figure” but argued that it is time for change at the top.

“Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington,” the group of Democrats said in the letter. “We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise.”

The show of force underscores the depth of the challenge facing Pelosi, who has led the caucus for 16 years. Pelosi needs 218 votes among lawmakers present and voting to be elected speaker on Jan. 3. House Democrats have won 233 seats, meaning Pelosi can currently afford to lose only 15 votes.

The letter includes 11incumbents, four incoming freshman and one candidate, Ben McAdams of Utah, whose race has not been called.

But in the last 24 hours, Pelosi’s position has stabilized. Barack Obama’s praise — stopping just short of an outright endorsement — probably convinced some wavering Democrats to stay with her.

“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 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.

Today, her only announced challenger, Rep. Marcia Fudge, dropped her bid and endorsed the former speaker:

Rep. Marcia Fudge endorsed Nancy Pelosi for House speaker on Tuesday, just days after openly mulling a challenge to the California Democrat, providing a significant boost to Pelosi’s quest to regain the gavel.

Fudge’s endorsement is a significant blow to efforts by more than a dozen current and incoming Democrats to oust Pelosi, who has ruled over the caucus for the last 16 years. Fudge’s backing leaves the rebel faction without a potential challenger against the longtime Democratic leader.

Two things may have influenced Fudge’s decision not to challenge Pelosi. While Fudge was heaping praise on the former speaker, Pelosi’s office released a statement naming Fudge chairwoman of a House subcommittee overseeing elections in the next Congress.

Another factor in Fudge’s decision to drop out was probably the news that broke today that a few years ago she wrote a letter in support of an Ohio judge who is now accused of killing his ex-wife. As they say…”not good optics.”

There may be enough votes to deny Pelosi the speakership, but Democrats are now facing the same problem that confronted Republicans when several more conservative members wanted to replace Paul Ryan as speaker. They have nowhere to go and no other candidate to coalesce behind to unseat the California Democrat.

So Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of using the hapless, confused, perhaps senile Pelosi as a pinata. Trump’s endorsement and his threat to supply Republican votes for Pelosi if she came up short in her bid for speaker probably won’t be needed now.

The president and Republicans appear as if they are going to get exactly what they want anyway.