Pelosi praises Bernie Sanders

Pelosi praises Bernie Sanders

Eyeing another Democratic wave in the House, Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Why don't we build a wall with Canada? MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday she’s hoping the energy surrounding Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE’s (I-Vt.) presidential run will pay dividends for down-ticket Democrats at the polls next year.

Sanders, a liberal icon who has made economic justice the focal point of his long political career, has performed surprisingly well on the campaign trail this summer, inspiring a young grassroots following and drawing the largest crowds of any candidate in either party.

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Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said she had followed Sanders down the West Coast during her travels around the country amid the August recess. The enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate’s message was remarkable, she said, especially among young people.

“I was going right down that trail and it was just amazing to see,” Pelosi told reporters from her office in the Capitol. “Parents would come to me and say, ‘I’m for Hillary, I’m for this one, I’m for that one, [but] my kids are all for Bernie Sanders.’

“It’s a younger demographic, and I think that it’s really good for the country [and] certainly for the Democratic Party for him to attract people to the polls,” she added. “Hopefully he can keep them there in the general election for our Democratic candidates.”

The odds are long against the Democrats, who would need to pick up 30 seats to win back control of the lower chamber. 

Pelosi, who earlier in the year had predicted that such a goal might be obtainable on the coattails of a Clinton presidential run, sounded a different tone this week. She declined to rate her party’s chances of regaining the Speaker’s gavel, saying she’s holding her predictions until closer to Thanksgiving to see “what the mood is.”

“That’s when candidates will decide,” she said, “and candidates will decide based on what the national picture is.”

But Pelosi said she’s confident the Democrats will make gains in the House, where they lost the majority to a Republican wave in 2010, just four years after the Democrats were swept into power on a wave of their own. 

“I know we will win seats. Whether we win enough to obtain the majority,” she said, trailing off. “We had a wave; they had a wave; we can have another wave.”

Sanders’s message of economic populism will help, Pelosi said.

“Our whole agenda is middle class economics versus trickle down economics. You have to invest in the education [and] the infrastructure of a country in order to grow the economy, to create jobs, to grow the middle class,” she said. 

“I’m proud of what Bernie is saying out there, and it’s a reflection of what we fight for here. And then Bernie is Bernie, and he’ll go to his place — you know, his distinct place — and we don’t all agree on everything.”

Pelosi did not officially endorse a primary candidate in the 2008 contest between Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama, and she’s not yet backed a contender in this primary season. 

But the California liberal, whose rise to the Speakership in 2007 made her the highest-ranking elected woman in the nation’s history, has long-championed the idea of electing a female president — a message she amplified Wednesday.

“Many women in America have a lot of excitement over the fact that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Sarah Sanders says she was interviewed by Mueller's office Trump: I believe Obama would have gone to war with North Korea MORE could be the first woman president,” Pelosi said. “She walks into that Oval Office she will be one of the best prepared people to do so, certainly in a long time.” 

Nationally, Clinton remains the heavy favorite among the Democratic 2016 hopefuls, and dozens of Democrats on Capitol Hill have already endorsed her. (None have endorsed Sanders). But Sanders is surging in many polls, cutting Clinton’s lead significantly in Iowa, the first state to vote in the primaries, and taking a commanding lead over the former secretary of state in New Hampshire, according to a recent NBC News/Marist survey. 

The shifting numbers reflect not only Sanders’ rising national prominence, but Clinton’s struggles to contain the uproar surrounding her use of a personal email account to conduct official business at the State Department. 

Republicans have hammered away at the news, saying her actions threatened national security, and recent polls indicate the accusations have eroded voters’ trust in Clinton.

On Tuesday, after weeks insisting she did nothing wrong, Clinton reversed course, saying the use of a private account was “a mistake.” 

“I am sorry about that,” she said in an interview with ABC News. “I take responsibility.” 

Pelosi on Wednesday rushed to Clinton’s defense, characterizing Clinton as “a person of great integrity.”

“I don’t think that she knowingly transmitted or received something … that was classified or top secret. And so I have confidence in her judgment,” Pelosi said. 

“I don’t know exactly what she said she was sorry for. Sorry because it’s caused a fuss? … Sorry for that fact that there’s a misunderstanding about it?,” she added. “I’ll have to see the context of that story. But the fact is, I trust her judgment.”