House Democrats already have an uphill climb to win the 25 seats needed to take back the majority this year, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi raised the bar even higher today by declaring, “I want 35.”
“I don’t want to show my whole hand today,” the California Democrat said during a live interview with Politico. “We believe the makings of the 25 are there, except I want 35.”
House Democrats have been pushing their “Drive for 25” to win back the majority this year, but Pelosi said she wants a cushion and added 10 more seats to that goal. The one-time Speaker has been a driving force behind the party’s efforts to recruit candidates in GOP-controlled districts and raise the significant money required to compete. She noted that Democrats have nearly 75 candidates running and that they’ll need to post serious challenges in nearly all of them to win 35 seats on Election Day.
Pelosi predicted that Democrats will fare well in her native state of California, as well as in Illinois and New York. In those Democratic-leaning states, Pelosi said having President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket will boost turnout and help lift Democratic challengers running against Republican incumbents. In Texas, a Republican-heavy state that Obama is not expected to compete in for his own re-election, Pelosi said Democrats will be on their own in terms of spending money and winning in competitive seats.
Pelosi also listed swing states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania as places where Democrats can add a few more seats to their tally, and she said Florida represents a place “where we have a three-way commonality of interests.”
“We have the presidential, the United States Senate, and we can pick up seats in Florida,” Pelosi explained.
All of those efforts will be boosted by a weak Republican presidential candidate, Pelosi declared.
“This crowd that they have there is not exactly what we would call the first string of the Republican Party,” she said. “I mean I think they can do better than that.”
Pelosi took special aim at leading GOP candidate Mitt Romney, declaring that the former Massachusetts governor is “not going to be president.” In addition to his record on immigration and other issues, Pelosi said that Romney simply can’t get enough Republicans to come out and support him in a general election matchup against Obama.
“If the far right thought that Romney could win, they might be more enthusiastic about him,” she opined. “But they question what he stands for, and they don’t think he’s going to win, so what’s his sell? I’m not sure he knows what he stands for, and that makes it harder, too.”
But on the first day of the new legislative session in the House, Pelosi maintained that her focus remains squarely on that chamber. Counting down from February, Pelosi noted there are nine months until Election Day, and each one of those is crucial.
“We have to have every one of those days very, very healthy days so that in nine months we give birth to this wonderful victory,” she said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.