"I think we've had our fun. Now let's get serious," Pelosi said
Pelosi added a not-so-veiled endorsement of Hillary Clinton
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday had harsh words for Donald Trump’s candidacy, saying she has “great faith” in the American people to deny him the White House in November.
The California congresswoman, speaking to CNN’s Dana Bash at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation 2016 Fiscal Summit in Washington, acknowledged the presumptive Republican nominee’s popularity but downplayed his impact.
“Right now, Donald Trump has influence, but he doesn’t have power, and I don’t think he ever will,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi said Trump and other Republican efforts to demean the legitimacy of President Barack Obama paved the way for Trump, a former reality television star. But Pelosi said she believes voters are getting past the spectacle.
“I have great faith in the American people,” Pelosi said. “I think we’ve had our fun. Now let’s get serious.”
She also dismissed reports that Trump had once given to her campaign, saying she only met him once years ago.
Pelosi’s comments follow a scathing critique she made of the Republican Party earlier Wednesday at a Capitol Hill news conference, ripping party leaders who say they are not yet ready to support the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
“Some Republicans, including members of their leadership, have said they cannot support the vile rhetoric and radical proposals of the Republican front-runner,” Pelosi told reporters. “Today, we have gathered to ask, since when? Since when have House Republicans been so concerned about intolerant statements and discriminatory ideas?”
Pelosi added: “What has happened in this campaign is that Donald Trump has pulled back the veil. What he says is what they say, and now people can see the connection between them. And unless the Republican leadership is going to be as, shall we say, critical of their own members as they are of Donald Trump, it is all a show.”
‘Whoever she may be’
Continuing on the 2016 race, Pelosi praised former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for choosing not to respond to Trump’s personal attacks.
“This is what the American people expect and deserve in a campaign. Elections are about the future,” Pelosi said.
“If there’s anything that we could wish for, it’s that the debate would go to a level of real substance and not where it has been going,” she said. “Hillary’s kept it to that place. I’m very proud of her candidacy. And Bernie (Sanders) has too. It’s all about the issues.”
Pelosi said that taking a high view in our presidential election is key to the U.S. role in the world.
“An election is about who gets elected. But it’s also about the tenor of how we take our country,” she said. “I think we have to recognize our importance as a model democracy to have an election that is worthy of our founders’ sacrifice, our soldiers’ sacrifice and our children.”
The minority leader dismissed the Democrats’ superdelegate process – even though she is one.
“I am not a supporter of superdelegates. I am one. I have not even endorsed yet. I think there should be no doubt that what the people say is what the outcome would be,” she said.
But Pelosi hinted at endorsing the Democratic front-runner.
“The next president – whoever she may be – will be one of the best qualified people to enter the Oval Office – knowledge, experience, vision, strategic thinking about how to get the job done,” Pelosi said.
The minority leader’s veiled backing of Clinton comes after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “confident” Clinton would be the nominee and eventually president and Obama joking at the White House Correspondents Dinner last month that “it’s anyone’s guess who she will be,” referring to the next president.
Pelosi didn’t elaborate on her remark, but said, “If people see that as the standard, maybe they will measure other people by that standard as well. I think they’ll recognize our responsibility to the American people to be – not mistake cruelty for wit, not mistake vitriol for strength, but to remember that we are this beautiful country, a nation of immigrants and a nation of freedom.”
Clinton moving to left on Medicare
During a campaign stop in Virginia on Monday, Clinton said she was in favor of allowing people to buy into Medicare at a certain age, a step to the left for the likely Democratic nominee.
Asked about the proposal, Pelosi told Bash she’d have to see more details of the plan before saying if it’s a good idea.
But, Pelosi said, “I think what she proposed is responsible. Is it good for everybody? They have to check themselves, and we’ll see as a matter of public policy.” She added that she would need to review what the plan’s impact would be on the deficit as well.
On the budget, Pelosi pointed to her experience working with Republicans to try and reduce the national deficit.
“We tried to find our common ground where we could. We recognize our differences respectfully,” she said. “It’s interesting to see what’s happening now with the budget.”
CNN’s Casey Riddle and Dan Merica contributed to this report.