President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday morning on the brewing debate in the Democratic Party about the future of Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the party’s minority leader, writing online that her ouster “would be very bad” for the Republican Party.
“I certainly hope the Democrats do not force Nancy P out. That would be very bad for the Republican Party – and please let Cryin’ Chuck stay!” Trump said, referring to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by a nickname he has pinned on the New York Democrat in the past.
A handful of Democrats, among them Reps. Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton and Kathleen Rice, have called for a change in leadership at the top of their party in the wake of Tuesday’s special election in Georgia, where Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff fell short, despite historic levels of spending.
Ossoff’s loss caps a string of special elections to fill seats left vacant by Trump appointees in which Democrats failed to capture a single victory. In Georgia, as in other races, Republican advertising sought to attack Democratic candidates by tying them to Pelosi.
At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, Pelosi defended herself and said GOP efforts to attack her were diversionary tactics intended to draw voters’ attention away from policy issues where, she said, the contrast between the Republican and Democratic platforms would reflect poorly on the former. She said she maintains broad support within her caucus and told reporters that her benefits outweigh whatever costs she might bring.
"I think I’m worth the trouble, quite frankly," she said.
Ryan, who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Pelosi last year as minority leader, told MSNBC on Thursday that Democrats are capable of winning back the House in the 2018 midterm elections, but “it will be very hard” with the “toxic” brand that the party has developed nationwide. He said the GOP effort to tie Democratic candidates to Pelosi “still moves the needle.”
Rice, in a Wednesday interview with CNN, said, "It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who once held the suburban Atlanta seat that Ossoff fell short of this week, essentially agreed with Ryan that Pelosi has become a powerful weapon for Republicans to use against Democrats running in competitive districts. The GOP plans to use that line of attack, Gingrich said, for as long as it can.
“I hope they keep Nancy for 10 more years. I want her there for at least another decade. I mean, we have all the ads done. They work perfectly in Georgia,” he said. “We know exactly how to run against a Nancy Pelosi-run party. We’d love to have the question be in 2018 Nancy Pelosi versus Paul Ryan, and I hope that the Democrats keep her right where she is for a long, long time. At least a decade.”