WASHINGTON (AP) — Ever pragmatic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she’d like to see a woman on the 2020 presidential ticket — but she’s not insisting on it.
The California Democrat said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that it shouldn’t be surprising that a few men have risen to the top of the sprawling Democratic field, which includes four women who are major candidates. She said she’s “very proud” of the women in the contest and she believes any Democrat running would be better than President Donald Trump.
She included in that category former Vice President Joe Biden. Americans, she said, should judge Biden on “what he’s done in his career,” rather than recent accusations of inappropriate touching.
But in a year in which women are ascendant in American politics, Pelosi urged Democrats to consider the presidential candidates on merits and to keep the long game in mind. Putting a Democrat in the White House, she suggested, is the point.
Asked if she’d see a problem if Democrats nominate only men for the ticket, she replied, “No.”
“Would I love to see two women (nominated)? Yes. Would I like to see one? Yes,” she said during the 30-minute conversation in her Capitol office. “But it doesn’t mean that if there isn’t one … that it’s not a ticket that we should all get behind.”
Pelosi’s comments come as she steers the most diverse Democratic caucus in history through their first months in control of the chamber — and around politically hazardous policy differences. But she’s also the leader of the Democratic Party — at least until it chooses a candidate to challenge Trump’s bid for re-election. She urged Democrats everywhere to evaluate the hopefuls through the long nomination process of debates that begin in June and continue with state-by-state votes next year.
That goes for Biden, should he choose to run, she said. Biden has been accused of inappropriate and awkward contact with women at political events. Last week, he sought to show he “gets” the concerns and is responding to changing social norms around personal space. But he later joked about the accusations , angering some activists.
Pelosi continue to defend Biden on Wednesday, saying he understands why his physical contact with women is an issue and casting doubt on the political impact of the accusations.
“What I’m more interested in about Vice President Biden is what he has done in his career for the American people and indeed for women,” Pelosi said, naming his support for the Violence Against Women Act and equal pay legislation.
“I know that there is a fascination with the frivolous — and it’s not frivolous. A woman comes forward; that’s important,” Pelosi said. “Let’s talk about women more completely than just if Joe Biden is from a school of thought that is more friendly.”
Polling, she suggested, suggests the public is not concerned.
“Just culturally, generationally, there are some differences,” she said. “It doesn’t seem to make a difference to too many people that he shows a warmth in his personality. It’s got to change because the world is changing, and I think it’s good.”