House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) refused to answer Thursday whether Democrats should try to unseat Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D., Nev.) following allegations of sexual harassment.
A former campaign staffer told BuzzFeed last week that Kihuen sexually harassed her, causing Pelosi and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to call for his resignation. Since Kihuen has refused to resign, a reporter asked Pelosi whether she would support a primary challenger to unseat him. Pelosi avoided the topic completely.
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"We don’t see this as a political issue," she said. "This is something remarkable that has happened in our country, and I’m so glad that [at] long last, Time magazine has placed some women as ‘women of the year'—first time I think, we’ve ever had a ‘woman of the year.' It’s multiple, but nonetheless, it’s great."
Pelosi was referring to members of the #MeToo movement who were named 2017 "Person of the Year" by Time, and she went on to say those women are creating lasting change in America. (In fact, Time has had several women of the year in the past, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015 to Wallis Simpson in 1936, as well as groups that included women, such as "American Women" in 1975 and "You" in 2006.)
Her answer continued in various directions, but did not address Kihuen. The Nevada congressman has also accused Pelosi and Lujan of knowing about the allegations last year and doing nothing, a charge the Democrats denied.
Pelosi took over two minutes to answer the question and did not address Kihuen, preferring to discuss the issue of sexual harassment as a whole. She quoted Julius Caesar, saying "alea iacta est—the die is cast," expressing the idea that the women coming forward with their stories has marked a turning point.
She extolled the importance of the "new day" that has dawned on matters of sexual harassment and assault, despite it being "sad in some respects."
"I hope people will all come together on it," she said.
"We have had on our side a series of meetings of a working task force," she added. She explained the task force is looking into "how to address compliance" in Congress, and named a host of issues that must be addressed, including transparency and finances.
"That is really what the debate is about," she said, concluding her answer that did not address Kihuen.
The reporter tried one more time to draw a comment about Kihuen from Pelosi.
"This is not about politics, it’s the last thing it’s about," Pelosi replied. "In fact, this isn’t about politics, this is about America and that’s about our country as well."