Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a shrewd negotiator who has sat face-to-face with Donald Trump many times now—and she is not confident he will step down if he’s defeated in 2020, unless he’s defeated by a big margin. “We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” she told The New York Times in an interview published over the weekend.
Pelosi’s worry going into 2018 was that “If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election.” If that had happened, “He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people,” she told The New York Times. “We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach.”
Pelosi’s view is that winning big means “Own the center-left, own the mainstream,” as in 2018, where “Our passions were for health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government—a simple message.” That’s up for vigorous debate in the Democratic presidential primary, with many candidates well to the left of what Pelosi is advocating, though every single Democrat is in favor of health care, bigger paychecks, and cleaner government, at least by contrast with Republicans.
But whether or not you agree with Pelosi’s prescription for winning, her warning about Trump is an important one, especially as he publicly embraces the idea that he deserves two extra years in office to make up for the ones during which he was under investigation.