Rep. Joseph Crowley (D., N.Y.) defended House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) from criticism he deemed "sexist," while also admitting he has hopes to move up in the party leadership.
Crowley currently serves as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, making him the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House. His vice chair, Linda Sanchez, has said it is time for Pelosi to step down, a stance Crowley dismissed even when MSNBC host Katy Tur pointed out how politically vulnerable Pelosi is.
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"Nancy Pelosi is a lightning rod. The Republicans use her pretty effectively to rally support among their voters," Tur said. "Are you concerned that she will be a liability for 2018 when Democrats could have a real opening to retake both houses of Congress?"
"I have heard that argument used so many times before," Crowley replied. "I think it really reflects the sexism that still exists in politics today. I think Nancy Pelosi is held to a different standard than others are."
"The vilification of her, in a very sexist way quite frankly, is what's led to this discussion," he added.
Tur then asked whether, if and when Pelosi stepped down, Crowley would consider taking the top spot in her stead. The New York lawmaker acknowledged having hopes to move up in the Democratic leadership, but refrained from committing to an answer.
"Look, I've never shied away from my ambition that someday to advance in the House leadership," Crowley said. "But what I will suggest is that is an issue for the entire caucus to take up at some point."
"Now is not the time to have that discussion; that’ll be after the elections in November of 2018," he added.
During the discussion, Cowley also argued for why voters should return control of the House and Senate to Democrats. He said Pelosi is part of that, arguing the House minority leader is an intelligent and diligent leader.
"Nancy Pelosi, as I've said before, is one of the smartest and hardest-working members of our caucus, and what we need to be doing right now as a caucus is focusing on the issues that will advance the cause of the American people," he said.