Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that House Democrats will run on their own policy agenda that may break from the platform of the Democratic presidential nominee.
Pelosi said Democrats won the House in 2018 by pursuing a “non-menacing” policy agenda and she will use a similar message in 2020.
“I’ve been very clear in all of this: Our responsibility is to win the House,” the California Democrat said during a press conference in the Capitol. “We know how to win. We’ve demonstrated that in the most gerrymandered voter-suppressed political arena you could name.”
When Democrats won about 40 seats during the mid-term elections, they used a “message of a bold, progressive agenda that was mainstream and non-menacing.”
Pelosi, who has not endorsed a candidate, said the party would unify behind any of the candidates, including self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has triggered fears among some members of the Democratic party about whether his policies are too far left. Sanders has promised free healthcare, free college, elimination of student debts, and free child care.
His anti-corporate message has won him millions of followers and supporters, enabling to take a delegate lead in the Democratic field before they head to the crucial Super Tuesday primaries on March 3. But some Democrats fear a Sanders-led presidential ticket might hurt the freshmen Democrats or vulnerable Democrats who are seeking reelection.
On Thursday, Pelosi didn’t mention Sanders’s proposed policies but attempted to show that her party is unified.
“Our responsibility is to make sure that those who [were] elected last time return to Congress, keep the majority, and add to our numbers,” Pelosi said. “The presidential is its own race, and contrary to what you may be hearing or writing, we are all unified,” she added. “Whoever the nominee is of our party, we will wholeheartedly support.”
At one point, she was asked about Sanders’s “Medicare for All” health care plan. “Well, I think that health care is the most important issue in the campaign,” Pelosi replied. “There are three issues: Health care, health care, and health care.”
Pelosi also said that Democrats will support any of the candidates who are the nominee. While she didn’t mention Sanders by name, she told reporters that she wasn’t “hearing from anybody” about concerns over what impact Sanders could have in the House races.
However, some Democrats have gone on the record to express their concerns with Sanders and their prospects of being elected in 2020.
“I think it would be difficult to have a socialist at the top of the ticket,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told The Hill this month. “I think he clarifies it and says ‘a democratic socialist,’ but a socialist is a socialist, whether it’s Republican socialist or democratic socialist, if there is such a thing.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) also told The Associated Press that moderates “might actually have to run away from our nominee to get elected” before adding that it is “highly unlikely that Bernie Sanders will moderate his views, either.”