Pelosi dismisses Democratic candidates running against her leadership: ‘Just win, baby’

Pelosi dismisses Democratic candidates running against her leadership: ‘Just win, baby’
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHillicon Valley: State officials share tech privacy concerns with Sessions | Senator says election security bill won't pass before midterms | Instagram co-founders leave Facebook | Google chief to meet GOP lawmakers over bias claims Collins defends ad showing opponent speaking Korean against claims of bigotry Hoyer questions feasibility of new threshold for Speaker nomination MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday welcomed the detractors in her own party, saying securing election victories is worth the cost of enduring barbs directed at her leadership.

“If they have to do that to win the election, I’m all for winning,” Pelosi said during an interview with Politico Playbook at the Liaison Hotel in Washington.

“I’m OK. Just win, baby.”

Pelosi has long been a favorite target of Republicans on the campaign trail, but the attacks have intensified this year as her prominence has grown. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Dems playing destructive 'con game' with Kavanaugh Several Yale Law classmates who backed Kavanaugh call for misconduct investigation Freedom Caucus calls on Rosenstein to testify or resign MORE has leveled personal diatribes against her while more visible party leaders, like former President Obama and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSenate panel subpoenas Roger Stone associate for Russia probe Webb: The new mob: Anti-American Dems Clinton to hold fundraiser for Menendez in NJ next month MORE, have faded from the public stage.

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The Republicans’ campaign arm is airing ads linking Democratic hopefuls to the party leader.

In a Pennsylvania special election in March, Democratic newcomer Conor Lamb was even forced to take out a TV ad promoting his opposition to the liberal San Franciscan. He won by less than 1,000 votes.

Pelosi attributed Lamb’s upset victory to “a superior” Democratic candidate — “where do they come up with their candidates?” she asked, mockingly, of Republicans — and noted that subsequent local polls indicated the most important issue for voters was health care.

She also emphasized that she holds no grudge against Lamb, and other Democrats, who are vowing to oppose her bid to remain atop the party.

“Many are saying we need new leadership. I don’t take offense at that,” she said.

Pelosi also went after the Republicans for focusing so intently on her in lieu of problems facing the country, while offering a warning to Democrats not to allow GOP operatives to decide the party’s leadership.

“They have no positive message,” she said. “You cannot let your opponents choose your leaders.”

Pelosi has held an iron grip on the Democratic Caucus since seizing the reins in 2003. Since then, she championed some of the party’s greatest victories in decades, including the 2010 enactment of the Affordable Care Act, but she’s come under fire more recently from critics in her own party, particularly younger lawmakers who are itching to climb into the leadership ranks.

Pelosi said she would have retired after the 2016 cycle if Hillary Clinton had won the White House, but decided to stick around to be a voice for women at a table of male leaders.

“[I thought] the Affordable Care Act is protected [and] I could go home. Nobody in California gets Potomac fever, believe me. But that didn’t happen,” she said.

“None of us is indispensable, but I think I’m very well qualified, knowing the legislation [and] being a woman at the table. And that became very important to me, that there would be a woman at the table where these decisions are negotiated.”

“Nothing is more wholesome for our politics and our government than the increased participation and leadership of women. … This is a tipping-point year.”

Pelosi reiterated previous forecasts that the Democrats will take back control of the House in November. She declined to predict how many seats the party might pick up, but suggested the only question is whether the midterms will prove “a wave or a tsunami.”

“I wish the elections were today,” she said.

Asked about her future in Congress if the Democrats fail to win the chamber, Pelosi demurred.

“I can’t even think of not winning,” she said. “You have to believe.”