'Underdog' Clyburn says Dem losses in House had 'nothing to do' with Pelosi

Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) leadership had "nothing to do" with Democrats' losses in last week's election, the No. 3 House Democrat said Monday. 

Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) blamed the poorly-performing economy for the party's electoral drubbing, which saw them lose around 60 seats in the House, along with their control of the majority.

"It has everything to do with an environment that we found ourselves in that had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi or the people that we had on the field," Clyburn said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"We're very introspective about this, and we are having discussions as to how we should go forward," the South Carolina Democrat explained. "And I think that my party feels that this had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi's leadership. It had everything to do with an economy that was close to collapse."

Pelosi has decided to stay in the House and continue to lead Democrats by seeking election as the party's minority leader going forward for the next two years. Pelosi is expected to win the race and is so far unopposed, though some conservative Democrats have said their party would be better off if she left the leadership team.

Clyburn and other senior Democrats have expressed support for Pelosi. 

But Pelosi's decision means Clyburn must fight to hold on to his job. Since Democrats lose one leadership position in the minority, Pelosi's decision to stay on has set up a leadership race between Clyburn and outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) over the second-ranking position of minority whip.

"I suspect that I've been the underdog most of my political life, and I probably am the underdog in this race," Clyburn said of his battle against Hoyer.

Whatever the outcome, Clyburn said that he and Hoyer are speaking regularly and would remain friends after their leadership battle.