Cummings: Democrats need to be 'big tent' party

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Friday said Democrats need to be a "big tent" party amid clashes over whether candidates are sufficiently progressive enough to be backed by the national party.

"I think we have to have a big tent," Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight panel and a frequent television presence for the party, said in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"Because it's one thing to say, 'OK, I don't want to be bothered with these folks.' It's another thing to say, 'Let's pull them under the tent, so we can be effective and efficient in getting something done.' Period."

Cummings also talked about how conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats helped the party win legislative victories in the Obama years. 

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The pro-abortion rights group NARAL this week slammed the Democratic National Committee for backing Omaha, Neb., mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who has in the past supported policies restricting abortion rights. 

Separately, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.) said he did not know whether Georgia House candidate Jon Ossoff, a Democrat seeking to win a conservative-leaning district, was a true progressive. 

Some Democrats have called recently to open the party up to opposing viewpoints in an effort to expand its reach and appeal to voters who may not align with certain planks of the Democratic platform. 

That approach has won the support of DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who said that, while the Democratic platform supports abortion rights, the party needs to be open to working with people with opposing points of view in order to reach voters in Republican-leaning parts of the country.

“If you’re going to be a big tent party as we are, and you're going to help elect Democrats who have generated support in their communities ... the will of those voters is the will that we must respect," Perez told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.