Swalwell defends Pelosi: We need her 'on the mound'

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) on Thursday said that House Democrats need House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to become Speaker.

"In these late innings of the Trump first term, [Pelosi] is the most skillful leader that we have," Swalwell said on Fox News.

"These candidates all ran on health care. She was the architect of the Affordable Care Act," he said. "If we're going to have any chance at all of protecting what has been lost, we need her on the mound."

Pelosi has faced growing opposition to her bid to take over as Speaker once the Democrats take control of the House in January.

A CNN poll released Wednesday showed that Democratic voters are divided as to whether Pelosi should be the next Speaker.

Those opposing Pelosi have been searching for a female candidate to challenge her and have pushed back against efforts to frame insurgents as lacking diversity.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) on Thursday said that she has been "overwhelmed" by the support she has received from her colleagues for a possible bid to replace Pelosi as the top House Democrat.

She added that she needs "to give it some thought and see if I have an interest," saying she does believe the left needs more diversity at "the top of the ticket."

Still, Pelosi has expressed confidence that she will be Speaker and has gained the support of prominent members of Democratic House leadership.

"[Those opposed to her] claim that she has been a drag on efforts to win the House," Swalwell said on Fox News, adding that the recent midterm gains in the House for the left "eviscerated" that argument.

"I think it's time for us to unite and do the work that we were sent here to do."

He defended Pelosi against arguments that the party needs more young leadership, saying he was himself a young Democratic leader in Congress.

"I ran against a 40-year incumbent Democrat who Nancy Pelosi supported and when I got elected, instead of shunning me, she asked me to lead a group of young members to try to bring into Congress more young members," he said.

"And we elected ... 26 new members who are in their 40s or younger," Swalwell said. "So there is transformational leadership coming, but I think right now we can't afford to put someone on the mound who has never pitched in a high stakes situation like this."

Republican Rep. Tom Reed (N.Y.) said he and some other Republicans could back Pelosi for Speaker if she agrees to enact a package of rule reforms.

Reed, the co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said the growing frustration with gridlock in Congress is one reason why several members in his party are willing to supply Pelosi with some Speaker votes in exchange for extracting an overhaul of the House rules.