Rep. Becerra tamps down VP talk

Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraEPA to pursue final 'science transparency' rule in 2019 Luján will have 'assistant Speaker' title California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (D-Calif.) downplayed speculation that he could be a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump Clinton commemorates Sandy Hook anniversary: 'No child should have to fear violence' Sanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids MORE, saying that he's interested in remaining in House Democratic leadership.

Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, has been frequently mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick given that he's the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress and could offer a direct appeal to the critical voting bloc in November.

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The New York Times ran a lengthy profile of Becerra last month headlined "As Xavier Becerra Stirs Crowds, Hispanic Democrats See a Running Mate" and detailed the time he's spent on the campaign trail and on Spanish-language television stumping for Clinton.

But Becerra, whose term as caucus chairman expires at the end of this year, indicated he sees a future in the House, preferably with a leadership role of some kind.

"I would be fortunate if I could see Democrats reclaim the majority in the House, see Democrats also reclaim the majority in the Senate, working with a President Clinton. I would be looking forward to working with her as a member of Congress, hopefully in a leadership position," Becerra said in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers."

"For me, the most important thing is a good November," Becerra added. "My thinking is I’m going to be a hopefully effective member in the House of Representatives."

Becerra passed on running for the open Senate seat in California this year. Apart from vice president, Becerra has also been floated as a potential Cabinet member or for potentially another statewide office.
 
"I just want to make sure that when the window opens, I can jump," Becerra said. "I intend to do as much as I can to be a leader for this country, wherever the opportunity presents itself."

Vice presidential speculation has centered in recent days around Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden team discussed 2020 run with O'Rourke as VP: report Warren talks identity in address to historically black university: 'I'm not a person of color' O'Rourke doubles support in CNN poll of Dem presidential race MORE (D-Mass.), a favorite among the progressive left. Becerra said her selection as a running mate would "add another dimension of dynamism to the ticket. It would be a one-two punch, a powerful one-two punch."

Becerra also said that Clinton's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBiden team discussed 2020 run with O'Rourke as VP: report Teen quits job at Walmart over intercom, tears into company over employee treatment O'Rourke doubles support in CNN poll of Dem presidential race MORE (I-Vt.), could be considered as a running mate. 

"I think he’s earned an opportunity to be considered," Becerra said. "That’s a decision totally, totally left to the person who worked very hard and earned our nomination."

It's unclear what role Becerra could play in House Democratic leadership in the next Congress that starts in January 2017, given that the top three members — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (S.C.) — aren't showing any signs of going anywhere.

Still, it wouldn't be unprecedented for Pelosi to create a leadership position so that Becerra could still serve in a leadership role. Most recently, Pelosi carved out a role for Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) to head House Democrats' messaging strategy operation after he relinquished his role as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Israel is retiring at the end of this year, which could offer an opening for another lawmaker like Becerra.

"I believe, given my two decades in the House of Representatives that I have an opportunity to do something there. When, exactly how, we will see," Becerra said.

The full interview with Becerra airs Sunday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET on C-SPAN.