Pelosi defends leadership following special election loss

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

"I thrive on competition", Pelosi said on Thursday, defying calls for her ouster from some members of her own party after Democratic candidates lost a hotly contested Congressional race in Georgia and another race in SC earlier in the week, the third and fourth such losses for Democrats in special elections to replace the appointees of President Donald Trump this year.

"I think there was consensus within the room that there are other members within the caucus who feel just like we do", Texas Rep. Filemon Vela told CNN. "Well, I'm a master legislator". (This has troubling implications for Republicans as well as Democrats.) Among Democrats, this polarization has led the party base to abandon big-tent politics in favor of binary judgments that ascribe moral failings to those with even moderate disagreements about cultural issues. My leadership is recognized by many around the country. Even Trump said in a tweet that he hoped Democrats don't force Pelosi out of her leadership role.

Rice said she has spoken with a number of other House Democrats following Tuesday's loss, and some of those members - including Democratic whip Steny Hoyer and assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn - share her concerns about the current leadership, .

Handel, the Georgia Republican who beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by 4 points, was not a particularly good candidate.

Republicans held onto Mick Mulvaney's SC congressional seat in Tuesday's special election, but the 3-point margin was hardly what they may have been presuming, given Mulvaney's 20-point victory in November.

All the races were on GOP-friendly terrain.

To take control of the House in 2018, Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats.

"As long as Leader Pelosi is perceived as the leader of the House Democratic Caucus", Vela said, "Republicans are going to continue to spend millions and millions of dollars in those swing districts to convince those swing voters, those independent voters - those Republican voters who might go our way - not to vote for our Democratic candidate because of Leader Pelosi". I have enormous respect for her.

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"This is not anything personal between me and Nancy Pelosi", insisted Rice".

Wednesday, Pelosi wanted to spend her weekly press conference slamming the Republicans Senate health bill.

The apparent effectiveness of such attacks alarmed some fellow Democrats, and they show no signs of letting up.

Is defeat the right frame for what has just happened?

"Usually they go after the most effective leaders because they want to diminish the opportunity that we have", Pelosi said.

"That's the first one I think he didn't write".

The frustrated Democrats met in Rice's office a day earlier to discuss their options as they face long odds of knocking out the woman who has led the Democratic caucus for almost 15 years from minority to majority and back, raised tens of millions of dollars and has had multiple legislative successes.

Rep. Tim Ryan, who unsuccessfully ran against Pelosi in November for the House leadership post, also attended Rice's meeting.

Pelosi also has a long history of holding her party together through hard votes - enabling former President Barack Obama to shepherd into law a series of Democratic-backed measures in 2009 and 2010 and later forcing Republicans to grapple with the politically damaging divisions within their own ranks. "They don't have Clinton or Obama, so this is what they do".

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