House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the left wing of her Democratic Party on Sunday, saying the number of outspoken progressives in Congress is “like five people.”
Speaking to CBS‘s “60 Minutes,” the California Democrat said the group aligned with freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez needs to learn to toe the party’s center line.
“Over here on the left flank are these self-described socialists, on the right, these moderates,” said correspondent Lesley Stahl. “And you yourself said that you’re the only one who can unify everybody. And the question is can you?”
“By and large, whatever orientation they came to Congress with, they know that we have to hold the center,” said Pelosi. “We have to go down the mainstream.”
Stahl pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez and her allies are a viable wing of the party, but Pelosi appeared to minimize their influence.
“That’s like five people,” said Pelosi.
When Stahl countered that “the progressive group is more than five,” Pelosi asserted, “I’m a progressive.”
Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, suggested that was a poor characterization of the new progressive wing of the party:
That's quite a way to welcome a new generation of mostly progressive women of color entering the Democratic Party who are activating young people, people of color, and working-class voters of all backgrounds.
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) April 14, 2019
In the interview, Pelosi was also asked about one aspect of the “radical change” those on the left are pushing—Medicare for All. She was unequivocal in her response.
“The Affordable Care Act is better than Medicare, there’s no question about that,” said Pelosi. “The Affordable Care Act benefits are better.”
Pelosi also stressed her devotion to capitalism in the interview.
“I do reject socialism as an economic system,” Pelosi said. “If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”