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Marcia Fudge bolstered by encouragement to run for speaker, but remains undecided

Marcia Fudge, the Democratic congresswoman from Ohio who may be launching a bid against Nancy Pelosi for spe...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 9:58 AM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 9:58 AM

Marcia Fudge, the Democratic congresswoman from Ohio who may be launching a bid against Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House, told CNN on Thursday that she is undecided about her bid, but seems bolstered by the outreach she's receiving.

"I have not made a decision, I'm still thinking about it," she said outside of her office on Capitol Hill. "It's a big decision. I mean, the speaker does an awful lot of things, the travel, the fundraising," and Fudge wants to make sure she's making the right decision. When might she decide? Probably not by Friday but "soon."

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Fudge says she's heard from more than 20 or 30 of her colleagues encouraging her to run. On Thursday, a list of 17 members of Congress indicated that they would not support Pelosi for speaker.

"It has been heartwarming and humbling to know how many people think that I should do this. It is something that people have (been) thinking about for, I think, some time and I'm just really, really pleased that they have the kind of confidence in me that they think that I'm the kind of person that should be able to do this."

And it's not just members who are encouraging her to run. Fudge has fielded calls from labor groups, from K Street lobbyists, from friends, from institutions and organizations. "Many people who are not in this body are encouraging me as well," she said.

Though she says she has not discussed her potential bid with him, Fudge did mention her friendship with Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the current House leadership. Earlier in the day, Clyburn, who is running for majority whip, said Fudge "would be a threat to me" and Pelosi if she were to run.

Fudge said that "without a doubt if I choose to do it" she will have fellow lawmakers nominate her for the November 28 vote. She also said she has not talked to Pelosi about this, nor has she reached out to freshman members -- such as Joe Cunningham of South Carolina -- who have indicated they won't support Pelosi. "I'm not going to start bombarding them with phone calls," she said.

To her detractors and critics, who say Pelosi pulled the Democrats across the finish line to win the majority and deserves to be speaker, Fudge says she pulled her weight too.

"I helped the majority too. As have most of us. I traveled the country, I raised money, I contributed money. Certainly not as much as she. But she didn't do this by herself. She also was the person who, over the last eight years, lost seats. It's one thing to give people credit for winning if you also make them responsible for losing."

Fudge, an African-American woman, wants to see more diversity in leadership.

"I also think that as I continue to hear not only her but other people say this is the most diverse Congress we've ever had, then our leadership should be diverse as well," she said.

Fudge says that as a leader she's much more "bottom up leader than top down."

She is not on board to make campaign finance revisions a top issue for the next Congress. Instead she cares about student debt and other issues from the 2018 midterm trail.

What about working with President Donald Trump?

"I know an awful lot about government. I have done this a long time and he hasn't," she said. "So I would be happy to help him figure out how to run the government when it is advantageous to the American people. When he's wrong I'm going to fight him every way I possibly can. But when he is willing to sit down and talk with us, I think we should be willing to sit down and talk to him."

Two of those issues: infrastructure, or a complete package for immigration.

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