01:20 - Source: CNN
Pelosi: I thrive on competition

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Some Democrats are looking towards replacing Pelosi

The veteran congresswoman is a prolific fundraiser and was the first female House speaker

Washington CNN —  

A defiant Nancy Pelosi made it clear she’s not going anywhere, brushing off critics from her own party saying “I think I’m worth the trouble.”

The House minority leader has served as the face of House Democrats since she helped engineer her party regain control of the House of Representatives in 2007 to become the first female speaker. In the face of some fellow Democrats called for her to step down following a major defeat in a special election Tuesday, Pelosi proudly touted her effectiveness, saying she was “a master legislator” and a “strategic, politically astute leader.”

Just hours before the news conference, moderate Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York reiterated her call that it was time for Pelosi to step aside.

“We need a winning strategy and I think the first step to getting to a winning strategy is a change in leadership,” Rice told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.”

But Pelosi taunted Rice and others urging her to step down, issuing what sounded like a warning on Thursday, saying, “when it comes to personal ambition and having fun on TV, have your fun. I love the arena. I thrive on competition.”

Rice’s sentiment was echoed by other House Democrats in recent months including Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Filemon Vela of Texas. They argued that the Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff’s loss in the Republican held House seat in the Atlanta suburbs was further evidence that the party needed both a new message and messenger.

The veteran San Francisco congresswoman held up her fundraising numbers and track record maneuvering major legislation through the House and declared she was confident she had the support from her colleagues to continue in her post.

She also dismissed the notion that the Republicans’ longtime tactic to hold her up as a partisan lightening rod drags down public opinion about fellow congressional Democrats and candidates. She referenced that the GOP spent millions of dollars promoting House Speaker Paul Ryan since he was on the 2012 ticket as the vice presidential ticket and “I have a hundred million or so spent against me and his numbers are no better than mine.”

President Donald Trump weighed in on the internal Democratic power struggle on Thursday, tweeting, “I certainly hope the Democrats do not force Nancy P out. That would be very bad for the Republican Party - and please let Cryin’ Chuck stay!”

But Pelosi mocked the President, saying it was “the first tweet he didn’t actually write” because it sounded like a statement many other Republicans have made recently.

Some of the Democrats’ suggesting Pelosi should move on have recently argued that the Republican attack ads linking Democratic candidates to her are an effective campaign tool, and could hurt the party’s chances to flip control of the House in the 2018 midterms. But Pelosi maintained that familiar GOP strategy only proves she is an asset.

“Sen. (Harry) Reid was a target, Sen. (Tom) Daschle was a target, Tip O’Neill was a target,” Pelosi said. “I am a target. And they always want to choose our leaders. And usually they go after the most effective leaders, because they want to take us, diminish the opportunity that we have.”

Asked if Pelosi should remain the top House Democratic leader in the next Congress, her number two, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, told reporters “I understand that she is intending to stay” and added “I don’t think anybody is going to impeach her.”

Back in 2001 Hoyer and Pelosi faced each other for the top leadership position inside the Democratic caucus, but have largely worked collaboratively in the top two slots for years.

Hoyer said about the 2018 midterms, “I think we can win back the House, I really believe that.”

CNN’s Liz Turrell contributed to this report.