SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Obama praises 'extraordinary' Pelosi amid leadership battle

Former President Barack Obama offered effusive praise of Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday as the Democratic leader fa...

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 3:54 AM
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 3:54 AM

Former President Barack Obama offered effusive praise of Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday as the Democratic leader faces opposition to her bid for House Speaker.

"I think Nancy Pelosi, when the history is written, will go down as one of the most effective legislative leaders that this country's ever seen," Obama said at a live taping of "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

Barack Obama

Beto O'Rourke

David Axelrod

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Legislation

Michelle Obama

Nancy Pelosi

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US House of Representatives

US political parties

"The Axe Files" is hosted by David Axelrod, Obama's former top strategist and a CNN political commentator.

The interview comes as both Barack and Michelle Obama return to the public spotlight after spending most of the first year and a half of Donald Trump's presidency off the stage. Michelle Obama is touring to promote her book, while Barack Obama spent the weeks before the midterm elections campaigning for Democratic candidates.

Obama's praise of Pelosi comes as a group of House Democrats who are seeking generational change in the party's top ranks argue Pelosi has become a political anchor around its candidates.

Obama said he didn't want to weigh in on the leadership fight but called Pelosi an "extraordinary partner" before complimenting her abilities as a legislator.

"Nancy is not always the best on a cable show or with a quick soundbite or what have you," Obama said. "But her skill, tenacity, toughness, vision, is remarkable. Her stamina, her ability to see around corners, her ability to stand her ground and do hard things and to suffer unpopularity to get the right thing done, I think, stands up against any person that I've observed or worked directly with in Washington during my lifetime."

Obama said instead of "performance art," what's most important are the "nuts and bolts" of governance -- "the blocking and tackling involved in actually getting things across the finish line."

"And my experience has been that Nancy Pelosi knows how to do that, and she was an extraordinary partner for me throughout my presidency," Obama said.

Obama also said in the interview that he and Trump have "contrasting visions" about the United States.

"I think what's unique about America is our aspirations to be a large, successful, multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, pluralistic democracy," he said.

"Do you think that's President Trump's vision?" Axelrod asked.

"No, obviously not," Obama said. "We have contrasting visions about what America is. And, you know, that's self-apparent. But what I would say is that the majority of Americans believe in that story. And there is power in that story."

Obama talks guns, filibusters

In the interview, Obama also detailed his frustrations with the hurdles he faced on Capitol Hill, saying he favors abolishing the Senate's 60-vote threshold to break the filibuster and advance legislation and lambasting Republicans for failing to back new gun laws.

Obama's comments came a day after a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago in which three people and the gunman were killed.

He said the hardest day of his presidency was the Sandy Hook shooting.

"The angriest I was ever during my presidency was seeing Congress not doing anything about it. Completely unresponsive," Obama said.

He complained that mass shootings in the United States are followed by "this Kabuki dance of, 'We're offering thoughts and prayers,'" and then no action.

"The NRA and the entirety, just about, of the Republican Party, and some Democrats ... would just shut off any discussion of dealing with this public health crisis that does not exist anywhere else," he said.

Obama also said the Senate should abolish the filibuster, a move that would mean legislation requires just a simple majority of votes to pass.

He said his agenda was repeatedly stymied by Republicans because of the filibuster, and that he failed to turn Washington's gridlock into an issue that motivated voters.

"I'm the first to confess, you know, I was not able to give this message effectively," Obama said.

"It's just not the stuff that moved people to vote, and the other side didn't get punished for it," Obama said. "We couldn't focus enough attention on the fact that the basic norms of governance that took place for prior presidents suddenly didn't hold for us."

Obama praises Beto O'Rourke's Texas Senate run

Obama, when asked about Beto O'Rourke, praised the Democratic congressman who shattered online fundraising records and visited all 254 of counties in Texas on the way to a closer-than-expected loss to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

He called O'Rourke an "impressive young man who ran a terrific race in Texas."

"What I liked most about his race was that it didn't feel constantly poll-tested," Obama said. "It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed. And that, you'd like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly it's not."

He also compared O'Rourke to himself.

"The reason I was able to make a connection with a sizeable portion of the country was because people had a sense that I said what I meant," Obama said. "And that's a quality that, as I look at what I'm sure will be a strong field of candidates in 2020, many of whom are friends of mine and whom I deeply respect -- what I oftentimes am looking for first and foremost is, do you seem to mean it? Are you in this thing cause you have a strong set of convictions that you are willing to risk things for?"

When Axelrod pressed Obama on whether O'Rourke struck him as someone who fit that description, Obama said, "Yes, and I think there are others. We've got a number of people who are thinking about the race who I think fall in that same category."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 122812

Reported Deaths: 2287
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32050965
Ramsey13185346
Dakota9146133
Anoka7955148
Stearns525534
Washington517267
Scott315634
Olmsted305029
St. Louis258563
Wright224714
Nobles211716
Clay200843
Blue Earth19587
Carver16867
Rice15629
Sherburne153221
Kandiyohi15194
Mower148912
Winona116718
Lyon9146
Waseca9089
Crow Wing86821
Chisago8312
Benton8265
Beltrami7537
Otter Tail7206
Steele7162
Todd6922
Itasca67117
Nicollet66417
Freeborn6314
Douglas5923
Martin58416
Le Sueur5825
Morrison5776
McLeod5663
Watonwan5634
Pine5040
Goodhue49711
Polk4894
Becker4833
Isanti4803
Chippewa3733
Carlton3721
Dodge3600
Mille Lacs3467
Pipestone32416
Wabasha3200
Cass3045
Meeker3043
Hubbard3012
Brown2903
Rock2861
Yellow Medicine2655
Cottonwood2610
Redwood24810
Murray2443
Fillmore2350
Sibley2353
Renville22511
Unassigned22053
Faribault2080
Swift1911
Jackson1891
Roseau1890
Kanabec18710
Houston1801
Wadena1790
Lincoln1640
Stevens1631
Pennington1621
Koochiching1604
Aitkin1511
Pope1420
Big Stone1270
Lac qui Parle1222
Wilkin1224
Lake1000
Norman930
Mahnomen911
Grant864
Marshall861
Clearwater740
Red Lake562
Traverse490
Lake of the Woods401
Kittson270
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 106765

Reported Deaths: 1522
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk17906281
Woodbury678786
Johnson562330
Black Hawk517196
Linn5020123
Dubuque463852
Scott402433
Story383217
Dallas328843
Pottawattamie294044
Sioux228211
Buena Vista219512
Marshall192236
Webster166414
Plymouth153324
Wapello147062
Clinton134625
Muscatine132357
Crawford130312
Cerro Gordo122223
Des Moines12099
Warren11436
Carroll10238
Jasper101934
Henry9735
Marion92010
Tama89336
Lee8689
Dickinson6837
Wright6791
Delaware6728
Boone6718
Bremer6117
Washington60611
Mahaska60122
Harrison5628
Jackson5253
Lyon5117
Benton4971
Louisa49015
Clay4814
Hamilton4313
Winneshiek4299
Poweshiek42811
Hardin4215
Winnebago41916
Kossuth4150
Floyd41211
Jones4053
Emmet39314
Buchanan3893
Cedar3795
Iowa3756
Franklin36918
Guthrie36414
Cherokee3622
Sac3603
Clayton3503
Page3450
Shelby3411
Butler3402
Fayette3372
Madison3372
Mills3341
Allamakee3248
Chickasaw3191
Clarke3083
Cass3022
Palo Alto2831
Grundy2794
Humboldt2793
Hancock2724
Calhoun2573
Howard2458
Osceola2450
Monroe23711
Mitchell2270
Monona2261
Taylor2202
Union2083
Pocahontas2032
Appanoose1983
Jefferson1881
Lucas1796
Fremont1781
Ida1762
Greene1710
Van Buren1562
Davis1544
Montgomery1525
Keokuk1361
Audubon1281
Worth1260
Adair1231
Decatur1220
Wayne1113
Ringgold802
Adams670
Unassigned250
Rochester
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 34°
Mason City
Overcast
35° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Albert Lea
Overcast
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 32°
Austin
Overcast
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 36°
Charles City
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Tracking a snow system moving through on Tuesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Candidates For District 26A

Image

Chez Bojji now open

Image

Ways to save you money this winter

Image

Sean's Weather 10/19

Image

Working to save the bees

Image

Suicide hotline number changing

Image

Sunday weather

Image

Minnesota's COVID numbers on the rise

Image

Bagging groceries for veterans

Image

Saturday night weather

Community Events