The HillTube

Wasserman Schultz ‘shocked’ if Pelosi stepped down as leader

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said on Tuesday that she would be “shocked” if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided to step down from the Democratic leadership this year.

“I would be shocked if she left,” said Wasserman Schultz on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” "It would really surprise me if she stepped aside.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Wasserman Schultz’s comments come as speculation intensifies over Pelosi’s post-election plans after Democrats failed to recapture the House. 

The longtime Democratic House leader has been silent about her future, saying only that she would speak to members of her caucus on Wednesday before sharing her plans publicly.

“When I see my caucus, I will discuss it with them in the beginning of this week rather than discuss it with rumor in Washington,” Pelosi said on Sunday in San Francisco.

The party is slated to hold elections on Nov. 29.

Wasserman Schultz said that with Congress facing many challenging issues in the upcoming lame-duck session, including the “fiscal cliff” of tax-rate rises and automatic spending cuts, she expected Pelosi to lead the party through the tough fight ahead.

“Nancy Pelosi is someone who absolutely loves to be part of the architecture of the big, major decisions, the big issues, and we wouldn’t have healthcare reform without [President] Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and with the fiscal-cliff issues and the big economic issues we are going to be debating, it would be hard for me to imagine that she’d walk away,” said Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz also characterized the recent elections as “successful,” even though Democrats fell short of the 25 seats needed to win back the House, picking up only seven. 

“Between the Republicans all across the country, they took over many, many state legislatures, redistricted most of the maps to their favor, and then add super-PAC money and I think that was a factor in the outcome,” said the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman. “I would have thought we would win the majority if not for those two factors.”

Wasserman Schultz is seen as one of a number of young Democrats who would likely jockey to move up in leadership were Pelosi to step down.

But on Tuesday, she sidestepped questions about her own future plans. Asked if she would return as chairwoman of the DNC, the Florida lawmaker said she was “not focused on that right now.”

Looking ahead to the lame-duck session’s work, Wasserman Schultz also downplayed suggestions from liberal groups that the looming fiscal cliff was not as serious as some economists portray and that there was no need for a broad deficit-cutting deal with Republicans. 

“What I heard all across the country as I traveled for President Obama was, from liberals and conservatives, people are clamoring for us to come together to work together and to move our economy forward,” she said. “People do not think we should have massive defense cuts and massive discretionary cuts and that we have to focus on making sure we have solvency for Medicare, that we deal with Social Security, which is not in crisis, so that we have more time to deal with that.”