Who Is the Democratic Party's Leader Right Now? They Don't Seem to Know

April 26, 2017

The Democratic Party entered the wilderness after the bruising 2016 election that saw them shut out of the White House and in the minority of both houses of Congress.

Since the end of Barack Obama's presidency, leading Democrats have been frequently asked who the de facto leader of the party is now, and the responses are as varied as the respondents.

When asked that question by CNN's Jake Tapper in December, then-Vice President Joe Biden said it was not clear.

"Like after every presidential election where the party loses, there is no single leader," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to have a voice in the direction of the party. [President Obama] will. Obviously Chuck Schumer will. Obviously Nancy Pelosi will."

CNN's Erin Burnett asked former Obama aide Alyssa Mastromonaco if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who wouldn't even identify as a Democrat while embarking on a "Unity Tour" alongside the Democratic National Committee chair, had the gig.

"Bernie? I mean, I think if you asked Bernie he would say no," she said. "He even said he wasn't a Democrat the other day."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) couldn't settle on one person when asked the question by CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"Well, President Obama was the president of the United States until just a matter of weeks ago. I don't think that he can be dismissed as the leader of the Democratic Party," she said. "Hillary Clinton did not win the election, but [she's] a respected leader."

There is not even universal praise for Obama in the party, who left office with high approval ratings. DNC Deputy Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) slammed Obama for not being a better "party leader" during his time in office, pointing out the heavy losses Democrats took during the Obama administration on the national and local levels.

When CBS correspondent Chip Reid asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) if she minded being considered the leader of the "Resistance" to President Trump, she shrugged.

"Look, if it works," she said.

Put on the spot on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to name three up-and-coming stars in the Democratic Party, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) couldn't help but name Democrats from states on the coasts: Reps. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), Clinton's 2016 running mate.