Now playing
01:21
Dem congresswoman: Time for Pelosi to go
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 23:  Demonstrators protest outside the Hyatt Hotel where the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were kicking off their summer meeting on August 23, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were protesting the use of superdelegates by the Democratic party, which is one of the issues to be addressed at the meeting. During the meeting the DNC is also expected to address other issues of concern in their presidential nominating process as well as lay out plans for getting out the vote during the mid-term election and taking steps toward picking a city to host the 2020 convention.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 23: Demonstrators protest outside the Hyatt Hotel where the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were kicking off their summer meeting on August 23, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were protesting the use of superdelegates by the Democratic party, which is one of the issues to be addressed at the meeting. During the meeting the DNC is also expected to address other issues of concern in their presidential nominating process as well as lay out plans for getting out the vote during the mid-term election and taking steps toward picking a city to host the 2020 convention. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
01:30
Democrats change superdelegate rules
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:52
Why Democrats are optimistic about midterms
The US Capitol Building is seen at dusk in Washington, DC, February 6, 2018, as lawmakers work to avert a government shutdown later this week.
Congressional leaders said Tuesday they were close to a budget deal that would keep the US government open -- despite President Donald Trump calling for a shutdown if he does not get his way on immigration. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
The US Capitol Building is seen at dusk in Washington, DC, February 6, 2018, as lawmakers work to avert a government shutdown later this week. Congressional leaders said Tuesday they were close to a budget deal that would keep the US government open -- despite President Donald Trump calling for a shutdown if he does not get his way on immigration. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/Getty Images
Now playing
04:12
2018 could leave us more divided than ever
PHOTO: McKenna Ewen
Now playing
01:54
Democrat's fiancée: Don't call me a Democrat
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:00
Can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez help other Dems win?
Seth Moulton SOTU
Seth Moulton SOTU
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:24
Rep. Moulton: Democrats need new leaders
California elections 2018 Democrats jungle primary marquez pkg_00012523.jpg
California elections 2018 Democrats jungle primary marquez pkg_00012523.jpg
Now playing
02:50
California Democrats have a big problem in 2018
key house race update june 12 cillizza orig bw _00003529.jpg
key house race update june 12 cillizza orig bw _00003529.jpg
Now playing
01:21
Democrats holding onto hope for the House
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 25: Former President of the United States of America Barack Obama after a discussion about democracy at Church Congress on May 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Up to 200,000 faithful are expected to attend the five-day congress in Berlin and Wittenberg that this year is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 25: Former President of the United States of America Barack Obama after a discussion about democracy at Church Congress on May 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Up to 200,000 faithful are expected to attend the five-day congress in Berlin and Wittenberg that this year is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Steffi Loos/Getty Images
Now playing
02:05
Obama's message to Dems: Do more than mope
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez New York 14th district intv newday vpx_00004930.jpg
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez New York 14th district intv newday vpx_00004930.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:52
Ocasio-Cortez: I'm upset by Trump's disrespect
PHOTO: CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
01:49
Obama meets with potential 2020 candidates
PHOTO: Getty/AP Images
Now playing
01:03
Women score big in Southern primaries
PHOTO: MJHegarforTexas
Now playing
01:54
Candidate's ad for Congress goes viral
PHOTO: KPIX
Now playing
01:22
Newsom will face off in general election

Story highlights

Some Democrats would like to have Nancy Pelosi leave her leadership position

Pelosi didn't directly respond to Rice's call, but stressed for Democrats to come together

(CNN) —  

A small group of House Democrats are publicly saying it’s time for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to step aside as the face of the party ahead of the 2018 midterms following Tuesday night’s disappointing loss in a special election for a Georgia House seat.

“We need leadership change,” New York Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice told CNN outside the House chamber. “It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team.”

Rice attended the closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting on Wednesday morning but said she did not raise the issue in the session, and no other members brought up the idea of a leadership change. “I think that people were in shock” after hearing a report from Pelosi and the head of the House campaign arm that Democrats lost, but were doing better in contests in other GOP districts.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton echoed Rice’s complaints in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “This is certainly something that we have to discuss because it’s clear that, I think, across the board in the Democratic Party we need new leadership. It’s time for a new generation of leadership in the party.”

Asked about her colleagues urging her to step down, Pelosi waved off the question and said she would address it at her weekly press conference on Thursday. But pressed if she had any plans to go anywhere, she replied “no.”

Pelosi didn’t directly respond to Rice’s call, but stressed that now was the time for Democrats to come together.

“I respect the comments of some in our caucus, but right now we must be unified in order to defeat Trumpcare,” the minority leader said in a written statement to CNN.

RELATED: Dem rep on Pelosi: ‘It’s time for people to know when to go’

In a written statement the California Democrat didn’t directly respond to the criticism, but stressed that now was the time for Democrats to come together.

A Rice spokesman clarified to CNN that the congresswoman was referring to the top three leadership positions: minority leader, Democratic whip, and assistant Democratic leader. Pelosi, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina were elected in November to those positions for the current session of Congress.

RELATED: Trump and Republicans don’t want Nancy Pelosi to go

The moderate New York Democrat said she had talked to a number of House Democrats since last night’s defeat and some expressed concerns about keeping the same leadership team. She said she is not interested in running for Pelosi’s post or other leadership posts, but said there are discussions among some Democrats about next steps. She didn’t call for Pelosi’s immediate ouster, but said that she hopes Pelosi will ultimately decide not to run for another term as the top Democratic leader in the next Congress and several others emerge as alternatives to lead the caucus.

“There are about a handful of people who are now seriously considering it,” Rice said.

Rice has been a vocal critic of Pelosi’s since the 2016 election and was supportive in the fall when Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan challenged her for the top leadership position. Ryan lost that internal election, receiving only 63 votes from the 194 members.

RELATED: Democratic lawmaker: Pelosi is worse than Trump in some areas of the country

Tuesday’s stinging loss in Georgia, where Democrats spent tens of millions of dollars has many in the party frustrated, with most griping privately that their current strategy isn’t working.

“Look we need to win, everything else is bulls***,” Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York told reporters leaving the meeting.

“This is not about me,” Rice explained. “This is about being able to take the Democratic party in a direction that is actually going to help us win seats and get back into the majority. We need a vision – where are we going? And we need a message – how are we going to get there? We don’t have either one of those. We just don’t have either one of those in the present leadership.”

Ryan told reporters Wednesday “there’s a level of depression” among members and said bluntly, “Our brand is toxic.”

RELATED: In Georgia, close isn’t nearly good enough for Democrats

Several House Democrats believe the GOP playbook of linking Democratic candidates to Pelosi is hurting.

“They tried it once and it worked. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving,” Rice said.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill brushed aside that argument, saying about the GOP tactic, “the politics of personal destruction has been their hallmark. “When you are effective, you are a target. It goes with the job.”

Rice said she hoped that Pelosi would ultimately decide on her own to announce she won’t run for re-election following the 2018 midterms to remove that issue and demonstrate there are other Democrats running for the post.

Pelosi told members at the Wednesday morning meeting about Georgia, “unfortunately this is a loss for us, but it’s not good news for them,” referring to Republicans.

She and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, stressed that in all of the special elections that took place in solidly red districts Democrats had significantly narrowed the gap. They pointed out that there are 70 more House seats that are more competitive than the one in the Atlanta suburbs that the GOP retained on Tuesday. Lujan distributed a memo to members that declared “the House is in play” and ticked through polling and recent trends.