ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
House Democrats wrapped up their caucus and leadership election by rolling out their newly elected leadership team at a brief press conference this afternoon, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi defending the caucus’s decision to keep its current leadership team in place despite a landslide election earlier this month that saw more than 60 House Democrats suffer defeat at the hands of the GOP.
Pelosi told reporters that she wished all of America could have witnessed the caucus today, “to hear the commitment that they have for fighting for the middle class, saving social security, for honoring our men and women in uniform, and building a future worthy of their sacrifice for our free country.”
“I am proud to be part of this leadership team. Our consensus is that we go out there, listening to the American people,” Pelosi said. “It’s about jobs, it’s about reducing the deficit, and it’s about fighting for the middle class. So I look forward to doing that in this great leadership team.”
Pelosi, D-California, seemed to become slightly defensive when asked to explain why she is the best person to lead House Democrats considering her personal approval ratings are in the single digits.
“Let me put that in perspective. How would your ratings be if $75 million were spent against you?” Pelosi asked. “Because I’m an effective leader, because we got the job done on health care and wall street reform and consumer protections, the list goes on. They know that I’m the person that can attract the sources both intellectual and otherwise to take us to victory because I have done it before.”
Pelosi, who was just reelected to her 13th term in the House of Representatives, responded to criticism that House Democrats did not receive the message sent by Americans voters when they swept Republicans into the Majority in the landslide 2010 midterm elections earlier this month. Pelosi blamed tough economic conditions for creating a political environment ripe for change, but she predicted that the Democratic team elected today would soon regain the House majority.
“The message we received from the American people is they want a job, they want jobs. Nine-point-five percent unemployment was a very tough screen to get through with any other message,” Pelosi said. “This is an experienced, diverse leadership team that is very strong, it’s a team that took us to victory in ’05, ’06, and will take us to victory again.”
House Democrats kept their current leadership structure and rank in place for the next Congress, electing Pelosi minority leader, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Minority Whip and Majority Whip James Clyburn Assistant Leader. The Democratic Caucus also reelected Rep. John Larson, D-Connecticut, as caucus chairman, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-California, as Vice Chair of the caucus, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, as the ranking member of the House Budget committee.
Pelosi is expected to meet with John Boehner, who was just elected Speaker-designate by the House Republican Conference this afternoon, at a bipartisan meeting at the White House with President Obama Nov. 30. They’ll be joined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to craft a legislative plan forward with divided government on Capitol Hill.
Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi, who has served for four years as the first female Speaker of the House, pledged to work with the GOP in a bipartisan manner when there is common ground.
“We extend a hand of friendship to Republicans and look forward to hearing their ideas about job creation and deficit reduction,” Pelosi said. “I want the American people to know that we will all strive to work together wherever possible in a bipartisan way to create jobs and reduce the deficit.”