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House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that he pulled out of the race for Minority Whip against Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in an attempt to bring the Democratic Caucus together.
Clyburn said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Members made it clear to him that they did not want to have to choose between him and Hoyer in determining the House Democratic leadership team for the 112th Congress.
“They did not want to vote on this issue,” Clyburn said. “Some Members told me they would not come to the meeting,” and if it came up, “they would leave the room.”
Clyburn likened his decision to give up the Whip job to his decision to give up a seat on the Appropriations Committee in the 106th Congress to avoid an intraparty fight.
He also defended Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who engineered a plan to create an Assistant Leader post under the Minority Whip to keep Clyburn in the party’s No. 3 leadership position, and he backed her decision to run for Minority Leader. “How did we get the majority? ... Who was leading the team then? Nancy Pelosi,” he said.
Clyburn said the Democrats would have the “same team that brought us out of the wilderness into the land of milk and honey.” He added that Democrats lost the majority in the House because of the economy, “and it had nothing to do with the leadership, in my opinion.”